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

The five-member Collegium, comprising Chief Justice Misra and justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, met on Wednesday to reconsider the name of the Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice KM Joseph a week after it was sent back by the government.

News18.com

Updated:May 2, 2018, 7:26 PM IST
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New Delhi: The Supreme Court Collegium on Wednesday was unable to arrive on a decision on whether it would reiterate Justice KM Joseph's name to the Centre for elevation to the apex court and said that it would hold more discussions on the matter before taking a final call.

The five-member Collegium, comprising Chief Justice Misra and justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, met after working hours on Wednesday to reconsider the name of the Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice KM Joseph a week after it was sent back by the government.

According to sources, the meeting lasted around 45-50 minutes. The Collegium also considered names of judges from three other high courts in view of the concept of fair representation.

Justice Chelameswar had not come to court but attended the collegium meeting. The collegium, an official said, discussed threadbare the note sent to the CJI by Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad while returning the file relating to the recommendation to elevate Justice Joseph as an apex court judge.

Justice Joseph's name was recommended along with the senior advocate Indu Malhotra on January 10 for their elevation as apex court judges. The government had on April 26 declined to accept the recommendation of the Collegium and asked it to reconsider his name. Malhotra was sworn in as the judge of the apex court on April 27.

Justice KM Joseph, who had headed the bench that had quashed the Narendra Modi government's decision to impose President's rule in the Congress-ruled hill state in 2016, was not considered to be elevated as a Supreme Court judge by the Centre which said the proposal was not in accordance with the top court's parameters and there was adequate representation of Kerala in the higher judiciary from where he hails.

His seniority was also questioned by the Centre which said "he stands at Sl. No.45 in the combined seniority of High Court Judges on all-India basis."

Hours before the Supreme Court's five most-senior judges sat down to discuss Justice Joseph's elevation, the government insisted that its decision to stop the appointment did not have anything to do with his 2016 verdict in Uttarakhand.

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad defended the government move and said that there was nothing wrong in the government exercising its right to seek reconsideration of a name recommended by the Collegium and this was a power given to the Centre by the Supreme Court.

Justice Joseph, who turns 60 this June, has been the Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court since July 2014. He was appointed a permanent judge of the Kerala High Court on October 14, 2004 and assumed charge of the Uttarakhand High Court on July 31, 2014.

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.

Notwithstanding the letters written by the collegium members to the CJI, which had come into the public domain, the centre disregarded the recommendation about Justice Joseph.

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| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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