NEW DELHI: The Collegium of the Supreme Court on Friday unanimously decided to reiterate the recommendation to elevate Chief Justice of Uttarakhand High Court, Justice K.M. Joseph to the Supreme Court. However, his name will be formally recommended along with some other Chief Justices of High Courts on 16th May.
“The Chief Justice and other members of the Collegium have, on principle, unanimously agreed that the recommendation for appointment of Mr. Justice K.M. Joseph, Chief Justice, Uttarakhand High Court [PHC: Kerala] as a Judge of the Supreme Court should be reiterated. However, the said reiteration should also be accompanied by the recommendation of the names of Chief Justices of High Courts for elevation as Judges of the Supreme Court, for which detailed discussion is required,” reads the resolution of the collegium passed on Friday (11th May).
In January this year, the SC collegium had recommended the names of Justice Joseph and senior lawyer Indu Malhotra for the top court of the country. After sitting on the recommendation for about four months, the Central government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi late last month okayed the name of Indu Malhotra and sent back that of Justice Joseph.
The Collegium that comprises Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices J. Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, MB Lokur, and Kurian Joseph had, last week, deferred its decision on the issue of reiteration of Justice Joseph’s candidature, says LiveLaw.in.
The government reasoned that he is junior to several other chief justices of the High Courts, and so he should not be elevated out of turn. However, observers pointed out that the same Modi government has in the last four years approved recommendation of more than one junior judges to the SC.
A section of the political opposition said that the Modi government turned down the name of Justice KM Joseph because he had turned down the imposition of President’s rule by the Modi government in Uttarakhand in 2016. The Congress was in power in the state at that time. Moreover, once elevated, Justice Joseph will remain with the Supreme Court till 2023, and the government may not be wanting to have such an independent judge for such a long time at the apex court.