Plea to stall Indu Malhotra's oath irks Supreme Court

Indu Malhotra

The Supreme Court on Thursday took strong exception to a plea made by a group of lawyers to stay the swearing-in of senior advocate Indu Malhotra as the apex court judge until the government cleared the name of Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice K M Joseph.

“What kind of prayer is this? There is no question of staying the warrant of appointment,” a three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said on a plea made by senior advocate Indira Jaising to hold back the oath-taking ceremony proposed to be held on Friday for Malhotra.

“It is absolutely unthinkable, unimaginable, unconscionable and inconceivable to raise such kind of arguments,” the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said.

The court also said, “The right to seek reconsideration of a recommendation made by the Collegium has been given to the government on tenable and fair grounds. It (government’s request for reconsideration on Justice K M Joseph) shall be dealt with appropriately. The matter ends there”.

The recommendation of the SC Collegium, if reiterated, becomes binding on the government. Earlier, Justice Kurian Joseph and other judges had asked the CJI to convene a full court to decide on the top judiciary. Jaising, along with SC Bar Association President Vikas Singh, contended, “We are concerned about the executive’s interference. The independence of judiciary has to be safeguarded.”

“We are opposed to picking and choosing by the government,” she argued, adding all the lawyers, who signed the petition, had the highest regard for Malhotra and the move was not against her.

“You don’t understand the gravity of the situation. Take the instance of High Court appointments. Should we say to the government either accept all or reject all names? If 30 names are sent for appointment as HC judges and the government clears only 20 names, then should we stall the appointments till other names are cleared?” the bench asked.

Jaising said the government may have found Justice Joseph’s judgement on President’s Rule in Uttarakhand as “not palatable”. “We don’t look at palatability of our judgement,” the bench said.

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Plea to stall Indu Malhotra's oath irks Supreme Court

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