The government is unlikely to transfer Uttarakhand chief justice KM Joseph anytime soon, top sources in the law ministry have indicated.
Joseph’s transfer was recommended by the Supreme Court collegium — a body of India’s senior-most five judges responsible for appointments to the higher judiciary — in May last year.
The government has cleared several transfer recommendations since then, including those of three chief justices from one high court to another.
For the record, ministry officials say the decision on the recommendation is still pending. “No final decision has been taken yet,” a senior functionary said on Saturday, suggesting that the ministry has neither returned the file to the collegium nor accepted the recommendation.
Justice Joseph joined the Uttarakhand high court in Nainital on July 31, 2014, but reportedly requested for a transfer last year on health grounds due to the weather in the Himalayan state. According to the collegium’s recommendation, he was to take charge as the chief justice of the high court at Hyderabad.
Justice Joseph’s April 21, 2016, judgment setting aside President’s Rule in the state was a scathing indictment of the Modi government at the Centre that led to the reinstatement of the Harish Rawat government in Uttarakhand.
Last month, collegium member justice Jasti Chelameswar had questioned the decision to not elevate justice Joseph to the Supreme Court. In a two-page dissent note, the SC judge had conveyed his strong displeasure on the collegium overlooking justice Joseph.