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SC collegium defers decision on Justice Joseph

03 May 2018

A person privy to the collegium proceedings said Wednesday's meeting lasted about 50 minutes.

The five member Collegium comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph met after the apex courts working hours, but no decision was taken as certain differences between the members could not be resolved.

In a move that will avoid an immediate confrontation with the Centre, the Supreme Court Collegium on Wednesday deferred its decision to reconsider the name of Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice KM Joseph for elevation as a judge of the apex court.

Justice Joseph's name was sent along with that of senior advocate Indu Malhotra on January 10 for elevation to the Supreme Court. SC sources said the collegium members "simply made a decision to defer deliberations on the case relating to Justice Joseph and adequate representation to three HCs". The Collegium meeting was considered crucial as the Centre had returned Justice Joseph's name on account of seniority.

Malhotra was sworn in as the judge of the apex court on 27 April. 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. One of the reasons cited was that his parent High Court of Kerala already had a representation in Justice Kurian Joseph and a second judge was not necessary given the small size of the Kerala High Court.

The present government had, at that time, hived-off Senior Counsel Gopal Subramanium's name, though his name had been recommended by the collegium as well.

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His seniority was also questioned by the Centre which had said "he stands at Sl".

Many backers of the Uttarakhand Chief Justice have alleged that he is being penalised for his verdict striking down the dismissal of the Congress government in the state a year ago and are keen on his early elevation since the Centre will have no choice but to acquiesce to any reiteration by the collegium.

Notwithstanding the letters written by the collegium members to the CJI, which had come into the public domain, the centre disregarded the recommendation about Justice Joseph.

After putting on hold justice Joseph's elevation, law minister wrote to the CJI that it would "not be fair and justified to other more senior, suitable, and deserving chief justices and senior judges of various high courts".

This is unedited, unformatted feed from the Press Trust of India wire.

SC collegium defers decision on Justice Joseph