Published: Sat, May 12, 2018
Medicine | By Douglas Stevenson

SC Collegium to unanimously reiterate Justice KM Joseph's name for elevation

SC Collegium to unanimously reiterate Justice KM Joseph's name for elevation

A crucial meeting of the Supreme Court Collegium was held today to discuss the issue of reconsidering the name of Uttarakhand Chief Justice K M Joseph for elevation to the apex court, after it was returned by the Centre.

The collegium also deferred decision on recommending the names of other high court chief justices for elevation since it requires a detailed discussion. According to reports, the collegium has decided that they would reiterate Justice K.M. Joseph's name along with other names once they are finalised.

The five-member Collegium, comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, which met this afternoon, said that "on principle", it "unanimously agreed that the recommendation...should be reiterated".

The government had returned Justice Joseph's name, while approving designated senior advocate Indu Malhotra's elevation, prompting commentators to accuse the government of vindictiveness.

Justice Joseph is now deputed as the Chief Justice of Uttarakhand High Court.

The decision to convene Friday's meeting was taken late Thursday evening by the Chief Justice Misra.

The Central government also flagged the absence of SC/ST judges in the top judiciary.

On 2 May, when the collegium met to discuss the matter, it had to defer its decision due to a "lack of unanimity".

The government's move to split the file containing the collegium recommendations was opposed by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA). Also on the agenda then was considering names of judges from High Courts of Calcutta, Rajasthan and Telangana & Andhra Pradesh for elevation to the apex court "in view of the concept of fair representation".

Jasti Chelameshwar, second only to the chief justice in terms of seniority, wrote to him recently to demand that Joseph's name be re-asserted as soon as possible.

"While Justice Joseph's nomination had been cleared by the collegium on January 11, the others are yet to be approved - so they are on a different footing", a source said.

Justice Chelameswar, who retires on June 22, was also understood to have responded to all the points raised in the communication to the CJI by Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad expressing reservations on the elevation of Justice Joseph.

The Centre has drawn flak for its treatment of Justice Joseph, the chief justice of Uttarakhand High Court, who many believe had angered the government by quashing President's rule in Uttarakhand in April 2016.

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