Supreme Court collegium says needs further deliberations on judges’ elevation
The Supreme Court collegium has said that an unanimous view existed on further deliberation and broad-based consideration of names of High Court Chief Justices before it sent to the Centre its reiteration on the elevation of Uttarakhand Chief Justice K.M. Joseph as an apex court Judge.
A resolution adopted at the May 16 meeting of the Supreme Court collegium said: “... in the meeting of the collegium, an unanimous view was expressed that there should be further deliberation and broad-based consideration of the names of the Chief Justices as well as Judges of the High Courts, which are at present not represented in the Supreme Court.
“In view of the above, the meeting stands deferred to be held at the earliest.”
The resolution was uploaded on the Supreme Court website on Friday.
Informed sources on Wednesday said that the collegium had met to deliberate on several issues, including reconsidering the name of Justice Joseph for elevation to the apex court after it was returned by the central government.
But, as no decision could be taken on the elevation of other Judges to the apex court, the two-hour meeting had also deferred the decision to reiterate the elevation of Justice Joseph to the Supreme Court, the sources said.
The collegium comprises Chief Justice Dipak Misra and four senior most Judges -- Justice J. Chelameswar, Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Madan Lokur and Justice Kurian Joseph.
Friday was the last working day for Justice Chelameswar since the court’s summer vacations start from May 19. He is set to retire on June 22.
Besides reiterating the elevation of Justice Joseph, the collegium had earlier recommended the elevation of Chief Justices of the High Courts in Rajasthan, Calcutta and Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
The collegium, during its May 11 meeting, had taken an “in-principle” decision to reiterate its recommendation for the elevation of Justice Joseph.
The collegium reiterated its January 10 recommendation, after the Centre on April 26 returned it for reconsideration.
Besides Justice Joseph, the collegium had on January 10 also recommended the appointment of Senior Counsel (now Judge) Indu Malhotra to the Supreme Court. While returning the name of Justice Joseph, the government cleared (now Justice) Malhotra’s appointment.
The collegiums on January 10 said: “The collegium considers that at present Justice K.M. Joseph is more deserving and suitable in all respects than other Chief Justices and senior puisne Judges of the High Courts for being appointed as Judges of the Supreme Court.”
But, the government, while sending back Justice Joseph’s name for reconsideration, had invoked the principle of seniority, saying that Justice Joseph stood at number 42 in the seniority of High Court Judges and that there were 11 Chief Justices of High Courts senior to him -- a clear suggestion that any elevation of Justice Joseph to the top court would be at their expense.
It had also said that the Kerala High Court, being comparatively a smaller court with a sanctioned strength of 42 judges, was a parent High Court for Supreme Court Judge Kurian Joseph, and Chief Justices of three High Courts -- Justice K.M. Joseph (Uttarakhand), Justice T.B. Radhakrishnan (Chhattisgarh) and Justice Antony Dominic (Kerala).
The government had also flagged the issue of non-representation of Scheduled Castes and Tribes Judges in the apex court.
However, the general perception is that Justice Joseph had earned the displeasure of the central government after a bench headed by him ruled against the imposition of President’s rule in Uttarakhand.
It is not first time that the government has sought to block the collegium decision on Justice Joseph.
Earlier, the government did not materialise the collegium decision to transfer Justice Joseph as the Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court. The collegium’s decision taken in 2016 remains unimplemented till date.
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