Supreme Court collegium to meet today to decide on Justice Joseph elevation

Supreme Court collegium to meet today to decide on Justice Joseph elevation

New Delhi: The Supreme Court collegium will meet today to reconsider its recommendation to elevate Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice K.M. Joseph and other judges to the top court.

The apex court sources said the collegium, which includes Chief Justice Dipak Misra and the top four senior judges, will meet at 1 p.m.
Besides Justice Joseph, the collegium will also consider names of judges from the Calcutta, Rajasthan, and Telangana and Andhra Pradesh High Courts for elevation as Judges of the Supreme Court.

The development came in the wake of a letter by second senior-most judge of the apex court, Justice J. Chelameswar, to Chief Justice Misra on Wednesday seeking reiteration of collegium’s January 10 unanimous recommendation for elevating Justice Joseph. With just six working days left before Justice Chelameswar bids adieu to the Supreme Court, he said the recommendation must be done at the earliest and the file carrying the reiteration sent back to the government.

Though Justice Chelameswar, a member of the collegium, is retiring on June 22, the top court is left with six working days before it goes for a six-week summer break next weekend. On May 2, the collegium, which also includes Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Madan Lokur, met and deferred a decision on the government’s request to reconsider its recommendation for the elevation of Justice Joseph.

The meeting was inconclusive but no specific date was given for the next meeting of the collegium which was speculated to take place this week. Justice Kurian Joseph earlier said the Central government should not have rejected the recommendation as this has never happened before.

The top court collegium, recommending the elevation of Justice Joseph on January 10, said: “The collegium considers that at present Justice K.M. Joseph, who hails from Kerala High Court and is currently functioning as Chief Justice of Uttarakhand High Court, is more deserving and suitable in all respects than other Chief Justices and senior puisne Judges of High Courts for being appointed as Judges of the Supreme Court.”

However, the Central government while returning his recommendation for reconsideration said Justice Joseph stood at number 42 in the seniority of High Court judges and there are 11 Chief Justices of different high courts who are senior to him — a clear suggestion that his elevation to the Supreme Court would be at their expense.

The Centre also raised the principle of proportionality contending that Kerala High Court was a “comparatively small High Court” with a sanctioned strength of 42 judges and was a parent high court for the top court judge Justice Kurian Joseph, the Chief Justices of three High Courts — Justice K.M. Joseph himself (Uttarakhand), Justice T.B. Radhakrishnan (Chhattisgarh) and Justice Antony Dominic (Kerala).

The Central government also flagged the absence of SC/ST judges in the top judiciary. There is a perception that the government was standing in the way of the elevation of Justice Joseph because of his judgment in 2016 striking down the Central government’s decision to impose President’s rule in Uttarakhand, but Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has denied this.



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