Supreme Court Collegium Puts Off Decision on Justice KM Joseph's Recommendation

The big news SC collegium to decide on KM Joseph’s elevation today and nine other top stories

Even while deferring reconsideration of Uttarakhand Chief Justice K M Joseph's promotion to the Supreme Court, the 5-judge collegium on Wednesday considered names of judges of three other High Courts for elevation citing "the concept of fair representation" noted by the Centre in returning Joseph's file.

Sources, however, told this newspaper that wide range of issues relating to appointment of judges from High Courts, which did not have representation, was discussed which remained inconclusive.

The names of Justice Indira Banerjee who hails from Calcutta High Court and is now the chief justice of Madras High Court, and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, now the Karnataka High Court chief justice, are doing the rounds. The bench said the government is within its rights to send back a name for reconsideration. Last week, the government cleared the appointment of senior advocate to the Supreme Court as a judge of the top court, but put on hold the collegium's recommendation to elevate Joseph.

In a statement, the apex court said it took note of the letters it received from the Centre on 26 and 30 April.

Three of the others said they needed time to respond to other names proposed by the CJI and also to decide if a consolidated list of the four names should be sent to the government or just the name of Justice Joseph.

Justice K M Joseph, who had headed the bench that had quashed the Narendra Modi governments decision to impose Presidents rule in the Congress-ruled hill state in 2016, was not considered to be elevated as a Supreme Court judge by the Centre. Firstly, a proper (BJP-led) government with almost three-fourth majority has been elected in Uttarakhand. "Secondly, that order was confirmed by Justice (J.S.) Khehar of the Supreme Court", Prasad said in response to a media query. Among those were Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Kurian Joseph.

Malhotra was sworn in as the judge of the apex court on 27 April.

However, the Central government had said that he stood at number 42 in the seniority of High Court judges and there are 11 Chief Justices of different High Courts who are senior to him - a clear suggestion that his elevation to the Supreme Court would be at their expense.

The members of the collegium including Justices Chelameswar, Gogoi, Lokur and Kurian Joseph had expressed concern over the delay in clearing the name of the Uttarakhand chief justice as the apex court judge.

Justice Joseph will turn 60 this June and has another two more years as Chief Justice of High Court.

Last week, the Centre had refused to accept the decision of the collegium to elevate Justice Joseph.

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