Collegium to suggest name of Justice Joseph again

Collegium to suggest name of Justice Joseph again

The Supreme Court Collegium headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on Friday unanimously agreed to reiterate the recommendation of Justice K M Joseph as a judge of the top court.

After the government returned the file related to Justice Joseph on April 26 for reconsideration, the Collegium, also comprising four senior-most judges, met and resolved to reiterate in principle their decision first made on January 10.

Justice Joseph is the Chief Justice of Uttarakhand High Court. He presided over a division bench to quash the decision to impose President’s rule in 2016 in the hill state, leading to reinstallation of the Harish Rawat-led Congress government.

The government raised objections to his name as the Supreme Court judge on the ground that he came 42nd in seniority among high court judges. It sought reconsideration on Justice Joseph’s name, also claiming his parent, the Kerala High Court, was already represented in the apex court.

The Collegium, however, decided that it would reiterate its recommendation but it would be done along with recommendations for the elevation of chief justices of other high courts. It decided to meet again on May 16 for “detailed discussion”. The government would be bound to approve when the Collegium reiterated the recommendation. Out of the sanctioned strength of 37 judges, there are vacancies of seven judges in the Supreme Court.

The CJI and Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph signed a resolution made in this regard.

The Collegium members, particularly Justices Chelameswar and Kurian Joseph, had earlier favoured reiteration on the name of Justice K M Joseph. The government had received considerable flak over seeking reconsideration on Justice Joseph’s name on the ground that seniority could never be the sole criteria in deciding elevation of judges. Justice Kurian Joseph, the only judge from Kerala High Court, is set to retire on November 29.

Notably, the Collegium had recommended for the elevation of Justice K M Joseph and then senior advocate Indu Malhotra. The government cleared the name of Malhotra, who assumed office on April 27, earning the distinction of being the first woman judge from the bar.

In the last meeting on May 2, the Collegium had decided to consider the names of judges from Calcutta, Rajasthan and Telangana and Andhra Pradesh High Courts for elevation.