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Supreme Court Collegium Puts Off Decision on Justice KM Joseph's Recommendation

Supreme Court Collegium Puts Off Decision on Justice KM Joseph's Recommendation

The decision of Supreme Court collegium to defer the issue of reconsidering the name of Uttarakhand Chief Justice K M Joseph for elevation as an apex court judge is unfortunate.

The Collegium resolution said that it met to consider the case of Justice K.M. Joseph, Chief Justice, Uttarakhand High Court, pursuant to letters dated 26th & 30th April, 2018 received from Ministry of Law & Justice, Government of India and also to consider the names of Judges from Calcutta, Rajasthan, and Telangana & Andhra Pradesh High Courts for elevation as Judges of the Supreme Court, in view of the concept of fair representation. Firstly, a proper (BJP-led) government with almost three-fourth majority has been elected in Uttarakhand.

The members of the collegium including Justices Chelameswar, Gogoi, Lokur and Kurian Joseph had expressed concern over the delay of the government in clearing the name of the Uttarakhand Chief Justice as the apex court judge. "Secondly, that order was confirmed by Justice (J.S.) Khehar of the Supreme Court", the minister said in response to a media query. Justice Joseph's name was rejected by centre and they had sent back recommendation file to collegium.

It was indicated that while Justices Misra, Gogoi and Lokur were of the opinion that the Centre's suggestions needed to be considered further at the next meeting, the other two judges were determined that the name must be iterated. Sources said the meeting did not discuss the issue of Justice K M Joseph at all, focusing instead on the proposals for appointment of judges, the recommendations for whom have been pending with the government, and also to hold dialogue with the executive for expediting the process.

Indu Malhotra was sworn in as judge of the top court on April 27.

Jaising told the court that the government was stalling justice Joseph's elevation because as chief justice of the Uttarakhand high court, he had quashed the imposition of President's rule in Uttarakhand in 2016, leading to the reinstatement of the Congress party government led by Harish Rawat.

Justice Joseph's name for elevation to top court was recommended by the collegium at its January 10 meeting. One of the reasons cited was that his parent High Court of Kerala already had a representation in Justice Kurian Joseph, while many high courts had no representation in the Supreme Court.

Some lawyers had even mentioned the matter before CJI Dipak Misra and demanded that there should be a stay on the warrant of appointment of Indu Malhotra till the file of Justice Joseph is cleared.