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SC collegium reiterates Justice KM Joseph's name for elevation to SC

14 May 2018

It all harks back to the non-appointment of Justice K M Joseph, Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court to the Supreme Court bench as the Collegium had recommended.

The judicial fraternity by and large stood behind justice Joseph with senior-most judge to the apex court J Chelameswar writing to justice Mishra, seeking to convene the Collegium's meeting to urgently forward justice Joseph's name to the Centre.

Sources suggested that the Collegium deliberated on the names of some of the senior Chief Justices of High Courts of Madras, Calcutta, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka.

On April 26, the government returned for reconsideration the collegium's recommendation to elevate Justice K M Joseph but notified the appointment of Malhotra as a judge. The Centre had also questioned his seniority for elevation as a judge of the apex court.

They indicated that sending Justice Joseph's nomination along with the fresh recommendations would only give the government another opportunity to delay clearing his elevation by saying it would be approved along with the candidatures of the other nominees. Following the receipt of the two letters, the Collegium met on May 2 but deferred the decision to May 11.

This resolution of the issue would in effect affect Justice Joseph's seniority, likely precluding his chances to be a part of the Collegium in the future or becoming Chief Justice.

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Justice Joseph's elevation to the top court was, however, rejected by the government in April.

Even before Friday's decision, members of the Collegium had given indications of a possible unanimity on the name of returning the recommendation of Justice Joseph.

Justice Kurian Joseph, during his visit to Kerala last week, had also reportedly made it clear that he was in favour of reiterating the recommendation of the Collegium on the issue concerning the Uttarakhand Chief Justice. It also argued that Justice Joseph's parent high court, the one in Kerala, was over-represented in the apex court. Malhotra has since been sworn in as a judge of the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court Collegium meeting of Friday (May 11) threw up a solution of sorts, nearly exactly as India Legal had predicted.

It is also learnt that Justice Chelameswar, who retires on June 22, has 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. Until then, Justice Joseph's name will not be sent back to the Centre.

SC collegium reiterates Justice KM Joseph's name for elevation to SC