The appointment of judges is a big news item and catches all the media attention. The judges who directly get promoted to the Supreme Court directly from their legal practice are referred to as ‘Bar Judges’. Lawyers who were directly promoted to High Court as Judges.

Criteria for Appointment of a Judge

As per Article 124(3) of the Indian Constitution, a citizen must meet the three criteria to be appointed as a Supreme Court judge:

  1. practice as High Court Judge for at least 5 years;
  2. practice as an advocate of a High Court for at least 10 years; or,
  3. be a distinguished Jurist in the opinion of the President.

Here are the Lawyers, who became Judges later:-

Justice Sarv Mitra Sikri

Chief Justice Sikri is the first judge to be directly elevated from the Bar to the Apex Court. He eventually became the 13th Chief Justice of India. There were rumors that Sikri will not be appointed as Chief Justice due to his strained relationship with the ruling party. He was a lawyer earlier.

One of the interesting facts under Justice Sikri as CJI was the case of Keshavananda Bharti; the stories about this case are famous, as the Bench of the judges was divided and the executive wanted to control the outcome. 

But, Sanjoy Ghose writes in an article, “Sikri did manage to redeem the day with his greatest contribution to India’s constitutional history.

Justice Kuldip Singh

Kuldip Singh was among the Indian Lawyers and is a former member of the Supreme Court of India. He was appointed as the Supreme Court judge on December 14, 1988. He broke new legal ground in environmental law (earning the sobriquet ‘green’ judge) and gave a fresh dimension to human rights litigation while dealing with alleged police atrocities in Punjab (for which his detractors termed him ‘Khalistani’ judge). 

Justice Santosh Hegde

Justice Hegde was born on June 16, 1940. He completed his law degree in 1965 and, after completing apprenticeship training and became the Advocate General for Karnataka, then subsequently the Additional Solicitor General of India. He was promoted to the Supreme Court in 1999, and retired in 2004. He was appointed as a Lokayukta for Karnataka and also joined the Anna Hazare movement in 2011 but left after it became political.

Justice Rohinton Nariman

J. Rohinton, before being elevated, was practising in the Bombay High Court. He was appointed as the Senior Counsel by the Chief Justice of India when he was only 37 years old. Justice Venkatachalaiah had to amend the rules in order to make him a Senior Counsel at the age of 37 against the mandatory 45. J. Nariman is considered to be one of the sharpest judges of the Supreme Court. 

Justice Uday Umesh Lalit

Justice Lalit is the Judge of the Supreme Court of India. He is the 6th senior advocate ever to be directly elevated to the Supreme Court in 2014. He joined the legal profession in June 1983 and worked with former Attorney General for India, Mr. Soli Sorabjee. And he is likely to become the Chief Justice of India in 2022 before retiring. 

On 10 January 2019, Justice Lalit recused himself from a five-judge Bench constituted to hear the Ayodhya dispute case. His appearance for the former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Kalyan Singh in a ‘connected case’ was brought to the notice of the court by Rajeev Dhavan, and the court in its order noted the ‘disinclination’ of Justice Lalit to participate in the matter.

Justice Lavu Nageswara Rao

Justice L. Nageswara Rao is the 7th Bar Judge to be elevated to the Supreme Court of India in 2016. Before he took an oath as a Supreme Court Judge, He was a Senior advocate and a former Additional Solicitor General of India for two terms. 

Justice Indu Malhotra

Indu Malhotra is a retired judge and senior counsel of the Supreme Court of India and the first woman to be directly appointed from the bar to the Supreme Court. Before that, she was the second woman to be designated as Senior Advocate by the Supreme Court. She was promoted in 2018 and has presided over several important cases. She was also one of the lawyers earlier.

Today, there are only 2 women SC judges out of 34 judges.