Govt returns Supreme Court Collegium recommendation on Justice Joseph

The Centre maintains that the Supreme Court Collegium did not follow principles of inter-se seniority and regional representation while recommending Justice Joseph.

The Union government on Thursday sent back the Supreme Court Collegium’s recommendation for appointment of Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice K M Joseph as an apex court judge.

It maintained that the Collegium, headed by Chief Justice of India and comprising four senior-most judges, did not give due regard to seniority of judges and regional representation in recommending the name of Justice Joseph.

The government segregated the recommendations made by the Collegium on January 19, clearing the name of senior advocate Indu Malhotra and sending back the name of Justice Joseph for reconsideration.

In a letter to CJI Dipak Misra, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said Justice Joseph was placed at number 42 among the high court judges. There are several Chief Justices of various high courts who were senior to him.

At this stage, elevation of Justice Joseph “does not appear to be justified as it does not address legitimate claims” of other judges and “forestalls” their chances, he said.

The government’s decision, taken about four months after the Collegium’s recommendation, kicked up a controversy with the Congress calling it as “vicious attack on the judiciary”. SC Bar Association President Vikas Singh termed it “disturbing”.

The fresh action is reminiscent of a similar segregation undertaken in case of senior advocate Gopal Subramanium in 2014. He later withdrew his consent for appointment as SC judge.

Notably, Justice Joseph, in a judgement in 2016, had set aside the President’s Rule in Uttarakhand resulting in the revival of the Harish Rawat-led Congress government.

However, sources said Thursday’s decision had got nothing to do with the judgement which was subsequently upheld by the Supreme Court bench led by Justice J S Khehar, who later became the Chief Justice of India. Prasad cited the Second Judges case (1993) and the Third Judges case (1998), both by a nine-judge bench, to maintain that the recommendation was not in accord with the parameters laid down for considering the seniority of HC judges for elevation to the Supreme Court.

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Govt returns Supreme Court Collegium recommendation on Justice Joseph

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