SC Collegium defers decision on Justice KM Joseph's elevation, seeks more time

Breaking: Collegium defers decision on elevation of Justice KM Joseph to Supreme Court

Breaking: Collegium defers decision on elevation of Justice KM Joseph to Supreme Court

The Supreme Court Collegium headed by CJI Dipak Misra deferred its decision on the elevation of Justice KM Joseph, now working as the Chief Justice of Uttarakhand High Court.

In a statement, the apex court said it took note of the letters it received from the Centre on 26 and 30 April. Firstly, a proper (BJP-led) government with almost three-fourth majority has been elected in Uttarakhand.

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.

Members of the collegium, which comprises the five senior-most Supreme Court judges and decides on appointments to the higher judiciary, then deferred the decision on the elevation of Justice Joseph.

In April, the Centre split a January recommendation of the collegium and appointed Justice Indu Malhotra alone as a judge. "Secondly, that order was confirmed by Justice (J.S.) Khehar of the Supreme Court", the minister said in response to a media query. He further added that the government has the right to seek reconsideration of the names proposed for election to the apex court granted to the government by the Supreme Court judgments itself. The decision to block elevation of Justice Joseph looks political.

There are altogether six vacancies in the Apex Court as against its sanctioned strength of 31.

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This is because clubbing these two in a single resolution could given the Centre the option of perpetually sitting on Joseph's appointment while asking the President to issue warrants to others who are recommended by the collegium.

After more than three months, the Centre cleared the file of Indu Malhotra and notified her appointment to the Supreme Court on April 26.

Many backers of the Uttarakhand Chief Justice have alleged that he is being penalised for his verdict striking down the dismissal of the Congress government in the state a year ago and are keen on his early elevation since the Centre will have no choice but to acquiesce to any reiteration by the collegium. One of the reasons cited was that his parent High Court of Kerala already had a representation in Justice Kurian Joseph, while many high courts had no representation in the Supreme Court.

Though it had cleared the recommendation of Malhotra for appointment as top court judge, the Central government flagged the absence of SC/ST judges in the top judiciary while returning the recommendation of Justice Joseph for reconsideration.

His seniority was also questioned by the Centre which had said "he stands at Sl".

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