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Thursday, Oct 24, 2019

No regrets over January 12 press conference flagging issues regarding Supreme Court functioning: Kurian Joseph

A day after he retired, former SC judge Kurian Joseph said that he has no regrets over the January 12 press conference in which he along with three other judges flagged various issues with regard to functioning of the top court, and noted that things are changing.

india Updated: Dec 01, 2018 09:20 IST
Bhadra Sinha
Bhadra Sinha
New Delhi
Kurian Joseph said there is no political pressure in exercise of judicial powers by a judge, but added that the manner in which appointments are “selectively delayed” or “withheld” is “in a way interference” in administration of justice.
Kurian Joseph said there is no political pressure in exercise of judicial powers by a judge, but added that the manner in which appointments are “selectively delayed” or “withheld” is “in a way interference” in administration of justice.(PTI)

The ball is in the government’s court with regard to a new way for appointments to the higher judiciary with the Supreme Court having finalised the so-called Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) from its end, and the issues raised by four senior Supreme Court judges (including himself) in January remain, Justice Kurian Joseph, who retired from the apex court on Thursday, said.

The current Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi was one of the four judges who held that unprecedented press conference.

Speaking to reporters at his house in the capital on Friday, Justice Joseph said: “You cannot say that the issues [raised by us] have been completely addressed. It will take some time for systems to change. Changes were brought in by the previous Chief Justice of India and the present CJI is carrying it forward. Process of change will take time.”

Justice Joseph also stressed on the need to have a collective leadership in the Supreme Court of India. “The Chief Justice of India is only the first among equals. And I believe that some sort of the committee of judges is needed to help him.”

Differing with the government on the issue of the MoP — the process for appointment of judges — Justice Joseph said: “As far as the Supreme Court is concerned, the draft Memorandum of Procedure is final and has been sent to the government. But the government has time and again taken the stand that the MoP is not finalised. What is the area of difference between the Supreme Court and the government isn’t clear.”

A senior government functionary, who did not want to be named, said the government wants a robust system for the screening of candidates for appointment as judges. “Along with the MoP, this is one of the issues we want the CJI to consider,” he said.

The MoP has since been stuck in limbo because of the lack of agreement between the Centre and the Supreme Court and reflects the still-open chasm between the two on the appointment of judges. Seeking to end the two decades-long collegium system of appointments to the higher judiciary, the NDA government brought in the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act.

On December 16, 2015, in the NJAC case, a constitution bench of the Supreme Court headed by the then Chief Justice JS Khehar directed the government to finalise a new MOP in consultation with the CJI to replace the current one and listed a number of suggestions to improve the collegium system of appointment.

The court also struck down the NAJC Act as “unconstitutional” .

Interestingly, Justice Joseph claimed that “recent appointments to the Supreme Court and High Court are being carried out as per the draft MoP that has been sent to the government.”

When asked about political interference in the appointment of judges, Justice Joseph responded: ”There is no political interference in appointments but delay in appointing judges recommended by collegiums in selective case in a way amounts to political interference.”

First Published: Nov 30, 2018 20:52 IST

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