Once again, Supreme Court Collegium stalls on Justice KM Joseph's name

Once again, Supreme Court Collegium stalls on Justice KM Joseph's name

At its meeting last week on May 11, the collegium decided in principle to reiterate the recommendation in respect of Justice Joseph but to take a final call on Wednesday.

However, the general perception is that Justice Joseph had earned the displeasure of the Central government after a bench headed by him had ruled against the imposition of President's rule in Uttarakhand.

This is the third time that the collegium has deferred its decision on Justice Joseph's elevation since the Centre rejected its recommendation last month noting that it would "not be fair and justified to other more senior, suitable and deserving Chief justices and senior Puisne Judges of various High Courts".

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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 date of the next Collegium meeting too has not been fixed. While seeking reconsideration of Justice Joseph's elevation, Mr Prasad wanted adequate representation for minorities and other High Courts, which are not represented. However, Justice Gogoi, who will succeed Justice Misra on October 3 as CJI, and Justice Lokur had agreed with CJI Misra that when there were seven vacancies in the SC, it would be incongruous for the collegium to send only one name to the government. Members also deliberated on whether Justice Joseph would lose his seniority if his name was clubbed with the others.

After a three-month hiatus, the government cleared Indu Malhotra's name while returning Justice Joseph's file to the collegium even though both names were sent together. The material considered includes the report of a two-Judge committee constituted to assess the judgments passed by Justice Jhala and the other recommended judges.

The decision on elevating Justice K M Joseph to the Supreme Court has been deferred. But it has made a decision to do so only while recommending - presumably on May 16 - the elevation of other chief justices of high courts, who may be in the zone of consideration, for appointment as Supreme court judges. But it is likely that the collegium may first consider six chief justices, in addition to K.M. Joseph, for filling the current vacancies in the apex court.

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