Once again, Supreme Court Collegium stalls on Justice KM Joseph's name

SC Collegium Again Defers Decision to Re-Recommend Justice KM Joseph

The decision on elevating Justice K M Joseph to the Supreme Court has been deferred.

The matter of the elevation of the Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court Justice K M Joseph was stalled by the Centre, as it refused to clear his name, while segregating the case of Justice Indu Malhotra, who was also recommended to be a judge in the same meeting of the Collegium on January 10, 2018.

Legal experts have asked why the Collegium, having "unanimously agreed" to reiterate Justice Joseph's name, should wait till the other names are decided.

Several jurists, former judges and sdvocates have since then stepped forth, calling out the Centre for the move, and demanding reiteration of the recommendation by the Collegium. This is the collegium's second meeting to firm up its response to the centre's decision that has set up a face-off between the judiciary and the executive and has been described as an attack on the independence of the judiciary. Thereafter, last week, it had unanimously agreed to re-recommend him, but had chose to take the final call on May 16.

On May 11, the Supreme Court had chosen to put its foot down, but cautiously, saying that it was for the reiteration but promising to send other names too for elevation along with the reiteration. It was attended by all five members of the Collegium, CJI Dipak Misra and Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph.

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Justice Joseph's name came up for recommendation once again after the Centre had raised concerns about it.

The collegium during its last meeting on May 11 had taken an in-principle decision to reiterate its recommendation for the elevation of Justice Joseph to the top court.

The government had also flagged the issue of non-representation of SC/ST judges in the apex court. The material considered includes the report of a two-Judge committee constituted to assess the judgments passed by Justice Jhala and the other recommended judges.

There are now seven vacancies in the Supreme Court, with two more vacancies likely to arise in the next two months, due to the retirement of Justices J. Chelameswar on June 22, and Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, on July 6. As a result, this delayed the proposal on appointment of Justice K M Joseph. The Law Minister has denied that his elevation is being resisted because of this.

Besides reiterating the elevation of Justice Joseph, the collegium has earlier recommended the elevation to the top court of Rajasthan High Court Chief Justice, Calcutta High Court Chief Justice and the Chief Justice of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh High Court.

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