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SC stage for Banumathi

New Delhi, July 11: The Supreme Court collegium has recommended the names of Jharkhand Chief Justice R. Banumathi and three others for the posts of apex court judges.

Apart from Banumathi, the three others are Meghalaya Chief Justice Prafulla C. Pant, Guwahati Chief Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre and senior advocate Uday Lalit, who has fought several high-profile cases, including the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case in which he represented prime accused and now BJP president Amit Shah.

The names are likely to be forwarded to the Union government for its approval by Monday, sources said.

Though primacy of the appointments is vested with the five-member collegium, the Centre has the option to raise objections about any candidate as had happened with senior counsel Gopal Subramanium, whose name was eventually dropped.

Though Lalitís name had been doing the rounds for the past two months, what is significant is the elevation of Justice Banumathi. If the government approves her appointment, Banumathi, who hails from Tamil Nadu, will be the second woman sessions judge to rise to the highest court of the country.

The earlier instance is that of Justice Fathima Beevi, who started as a sessions judge in Kerala and later rose to the Supreme Court in 1989.

The general practice has been to elevate Chief Justices of high court or senior-most judges to the Supreme Court.

In recent times though, Chief Justice of India R.M. Lodha has recommended the names of senior advocates directly for elevation to the apex court in view of the large number of retirements.