SC collegium defers reiteration of Justice Joseph's elevation to top court

Remigio Civitarese
Mag 17, 2018

Besides Justice Joseph, the collegium had on January 10 also recommended the appointment of Senior Counsel (now a Judge) Indu Malhotra to the Supreme Court. At the May 11 meeting of the collegium, comprising CJI Misra and Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, it was unanimously chose to reiterate the proposal to elevate Justice K M Joseph. This is especially because Justice Joseph, in March 2016, had struck down the Centre's bid to dismiss the state government in Uttarakhand. During the May 11 meeting of the collegium, sources said Justices Chelameswar and Kurian Joseph had pitched strongly for reiteration of Justice K M Joseph's name and insisted on sending his name alone to the government for quick elevation to the SC.

The meeting failed to reiterate Justice K M Joseph's name despite having pre-arranged to meet to do precisely that last week, apart from suggesting other names for the Supreme Court. The Centre had sent back Justice Joseph's name for reconsideration. This is the collegium's second meeting to firm up its response to the centre's decision that has set up a face-off between the judiciary and the executive and has been described as an attack on the independence of the judiciary. While seeking reconsideration of Justice Joseph's elevation, Mr Prasad wanted adequate representation for minorities and other High Courts, which are not represented. This issue may come up at the next meeting. On Wednesday, there was a detailed discussion in the collegium but sources said no unanimity was reached on names that could be recommended for appointment as SC judges.

The Supreme Court collegium on Wednesday once again deferred the decision to re-recommend Chief Justice of Uttarakhand High Court, Justice K.M. Joseph for elevation to the Supreme Court. Five judges of the court are scheduled to retire in 2018 - Justice Chelameswar as early as June 22. Justice Malhotra is already functioning as a Supreme Court judge.

There has been much debate about what is stalling the Collegium from formally reiterating his name to the Centre, despite stating they will do so "on principle" last time around. But it is likely that the collegium may first consider six chief justices, in addition to K.M. Joseph, for filling the current vacancies in the apex court.

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