Chief justice of Uttarakhand high court KM Joseph.(PTI File Photo)
Chief justice of Uttarakhand high court KM Joseph.(PTI File Photo)

From Kapil Sibal to Subramanian Swamy, who said what on Justice KM Joseph’s elevation row

The Congress was critical of the Modi government’s decision to return the Supreme Court’s recommendation of Justice KM Joseph as an apex judge.
By HT Correspondent | Agencies, New Delhi
UPDATED ON APR 26, 2018 06:47 PM IST

The elevation of one of the two jurists recommended by the collegium as Supreme Court judges, on Thursday evoked sharp reaction with the apex court’s bar association chief terming as “disturbing” the government’s action of accepting only one name and asking it to reconsider the name of Justice KM Joseph.

The Centre’s move comes a day after it cleared the appointment of senior advocate Indu Malhotra as a judge of the Supreme Court and kept in abeyance a decision on Joseph, who is chief justice of the Uttarakhand high court. Both the names were recommended by the collegium in January.

Malhotra will be the first woman judge to be appointed to the top post directly from the bar.

P Chidambaram, Congress leader

In a series of tweets, the former Union finance minister questioned the delay in justice KM Joseph’s elevation. Questioning whether the “Modi government was above law”, Chidambaram said, “As the law stands now, the recommendation of the SC collegium is final and binding in the appointment of judges... What is holding up Justice K M Joseph’s appointment? His state, or his religion or his judgement in the Uttarakhand case?”

A bench headed by Justice Joseph, who is the chief justice of the Uttarakhand high court, in 2016 had quashed the imposition of President rule in the state and had revived the Congress government headed by Harish Rawat, dealing a major blow to Modi government.

Randeep Surjewala, Congress spokesperson

“PM Modi’s ‘revenge politics’ qua judiciary and ‘conspiratorial suffocation’ of Supreme Court exposed again,” Surjewala said on Twitter, adding that Justice Joseph, who heads the Uttarakhand high court, is India’s most senior chief justice.

“Yet Modi Government refuses to clear his elevation to SC as retribution for quashing presidential rule in Uttarakhand?” he said.

“Modiji shredded Parliamentary privileges and supremacy. He road-rolled independent media. Democracy’s last refuge i.e Judiciary is now under most vicious attack ever. If the Nation doesn’t rise in unison now, totalitarianism will stump democracy,” he further tweeted.

Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union law minister

In a letter to the Chief Justice of India, Prasad said, “The proposed appointment of justice K M Joseph at this stage does not appear to be appropriate. It would also not be fair and justified to other more senior, suitable, and deserving Chief Justice and senior judges of various high courts.”

The letter said the “proposal” to reconsider Joseph’s name had the President and Prime Minister’s approval.

Vikas Singh, Supreme Court Bar Association president

Speaking in his individual capacity, Singh expressed concern over the delay in justice Joseph’s appointment, and said “this kind of interference by the executive is definitely uncalled for”.

“This elevation is very wrong as it disturbs the seniority in the Supreme Court. We have seen in recent past how important seniority is in the apex court. Judges are being labelled as junior judges and said that they were not fit to hear sensitive matters. So tomorrow if somebody says Justice Joseph is a junior judge and not fit to hear a particular matter, it will be very sad,” he told PTI.

“Government will be responsible. This kind of interference by the executive is definitely uncalled for. By delaying this, they have definitely interfered in seniority rules and in that sense they have interfered in the functioning of judiciary. A very serious matter. The civil society and the judges of the Supreme Court in full court should discuss and take it up with the government,” Singh added.

Subramanian Swamy, BJP leader

Calling the Congress party frustrated, Swamy said, “On one hand, they accuse the CJI being inclined to BJP and on the other, they are saying we have ignored him.”

Prashant Bhushant, lawyer

Bhushan alleged that the government was trying to erode and destroy the independence of judiciary by not appointing those recommended by the collegium.

“Justice KM Joseph’s instance is a very clear one, whose name has been stalled, which was recommended by the collegium four months ago. The name was unanimously recommended by the collegium and yet it has been stalled by the government because he gave a judgment in Uttarakhand case against the government.

Kapil Sibal, Congress leader

In a sharp reaction, Sibal said the independence of the judiciary “is in danger”.

“Indian judiciary is in danger. And if our judiciary is not united to protect its independence then democracy is in danger.... they want to pack High Courts with their won people,” he told media.

Sibal said that there are 410 vacancies of judges across the country out of the total approved strength of 1079 judges.

“We want to know as to who will stand for judicial independence. Will the judiciary speak in one voice that enough is enough,” he said.

Sharad Yadav, Former Rajya Sabha member

Yadav said the government was “interfering” in the judiciary.

“It is a very serious matter and I will request the apex court judges to come forward and ensure that the people’s faith in the judiciary remains intact.

“This (the issue of Justice Joseph’s elevation to the Supreme Court) shows that the government is interfering in the (matters of the) judiciary and all constitutional institutions in a big way,” the veteran leader said..

CPI(M)

The Left party accused the BJP-led NDA government of “unwarranted intrusion” into the selection process.

“The government has not cleared the appointment of Justice K M Joseph. This is an unwarranted intrusion into the selection process of a judge and will affect the independence of the judiciary.

“The President of India must immediately intervene to ensure that the laid-out procedure is followed and the appointment of Justice Joseph is cleared, “ the CPI(M) said in a statement.

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