Govt to clear Justice KM Joseph, two others for Supreme Court
After nearly four months of uncertainty, the government has finally decided to clear Uttarakhand Chief Justice KM Joseph’s name for elevation to the Supreme Court.
People familiar with the matter confirmed this, stating that the issue of Justice Joseph’s seniority as compared to other judges has been resolved.
Two other names — that of Justices Indira Banerjee and Vineet Sharan — were also cleared for appointment by the law ministry. Justice Joseph will take oath after fellow judges Banerjee and Saran, making him junior to them in the Supreme Court.
This move paves the way for the appointment of three new judges to the top court, which currently has nine vacancies against a total strength of 31 judges.
Although Justice Joseph’s name was sent to the law ministry by the Supreme Court collegium in January, a letter written by law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra in April sought that the recommendation be reconsidered.
The government claimed that Justice Joseph was not senior enough, and his elevation will result in Kerala having two judges in the Supreme Court – going against the principle of regional representation. The Opposition criticised the government’s move, stating that it only wanted “judges that favour its policies”.
The file was returned to the government on July 16, with the collegium reiterating that Joseph was indeed its choice for the apex court. It also contained two fresh recommendations.