An Empirical Study of the Supreme Court's Composition

Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 46, No. 1, January 2011

16 Pages Posted: 20 Jan 2011

Date Written: January, 19 2011

Abstract

This paper maps the composition of the Supreme Court of India as it has reconstituted itself between July 1985 – May 20106 using its Chief Justices as convenient reference points of comparison. Accordingly, this study examines the composition of the court from the time Justice P.N. Bhagwati assumed the office of the Chief Justice of India in July 1985, until Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, assumed office in May 2010. Broadly speaking, the study yields the following observations: (1) The average age of appointment to the Supreme Court of India has increased, while the average age of appointment to the High Courts has decreased between 1985-2010, and consequently, Supreme Court judges on average have greater High Court experience but shorter Supreme Court tenures. (2) The High Courts of Bombay, Allahabad and Karnataka have been amongst the most well represented on the Supreme Court. Andhra Pradesh and Madras have in more recent times had relatively fewer judges on the court when compared to the states of Bihar and Delhi. (3) The overwhelming majority of judges on the Supreme Court today have served as Chief Justice of at least one (if not more than one) High Court. (4) There is evidence of between 3-4 consistently non-Hindu seats on the court. (5) Educationally, the number of Supreme Court judges who studied law abroad has fallen substantially.

Keywords: Supreme Court of India, Indian Judges, Indian Judiciary, Chief Justice of India, Age of Appointment, Regional Representation

Suggested Citation

Chandrachud, Abhinav, An Empirical Study of the Supreme Court's Composition (January, 19 2011). Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 46, No. 1, January 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1743594

Abhinav Chandrachud (Contact Author)

Advocate, Bombay High Court ( email )

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