SC collegium to reiterate Justice Joseph's name

Supreme Court file

The Supreme Court collegium, in a meeting held on Friday, unanimously agreed that the recommendation for appointment of Justice K.M. Joseph should be reiterated before the government.

However, the collegium also decided that the said reiteration should be accompanied by the recommendation of the names of Chief Justices of High Courts for elevation for which detailed discussion is required.

A crucial meeting of the collegium on Friday sent out strong signals that the controversy is not going to die down soon with the top body unanimously agreeing in principle to reiterate the recommendation for the elevation of justice Joseph.

Justices Chelameshwar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph revolted first through a historic press meet in which they alleged discrepancies in allotment of matters to benches and formation of Constitution Benches done by the chief justice.

In today's meeting, the agenda was same and besides Justice Jospeph, the Collegium deliberated on the names of some judges from Calcutta, Rajasthan and Telangana & Andhra Pradesh High Courts for elevation as apex court judges.

On 26 April, the government rejected the collegium's recommendation to elevate Joseph but accepted its recommendation to elevate senior advocate Indu Malhotra as a judge of the apex court.

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The meeting of the collegium was called by CJI Dipak Misra a day after Justice Chelameswar wrote to him seeking an early meeting of the collegium.

However, the collegium will also recommend names of some other senior high court chief justices with Joseph.

According to current norms, a unanimous reiteration must be agreed to by the Centre and the Judge must be sworn in. In a strongly worded letter to CJI Misra, Justice Kurian Joseph said the "very life and existence" of the Supreme Court was under threat and "history will not pardon us", if the court doesn't respond to the government sitting on the recommendation. The Department of Justice had sent his name back, saying if there were more senior judges in waiting, why Joseph in particular? Malhotra has since been sworn in as a judge of the Supreme Court.

"Had it been the case, why would had we approved Justice JS Khehar's name for elevation as CJI a year ago", he said, recalling that Justice Khehar was part of the bench which rejected the government's controversial National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Bill.

There has been speculation that Justice Jospeh's name wasn't cleared because he, in 2016, had revoked the president's rule in Uttarakhand, thus enabling the Congress to remain in power, something that did not go down well with the ruling BJP.

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