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Day After Retirement, Justice Kurian Joseph Says Centre Intervening in Appointment of HC Judges

The former Supreme Court judge also said he had no regrets about the controversial January 12 press conference in which he, along with three other judges, flagged various issues with regard to functioning of the top court.

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Updated:November 30, 2018, 10:22 PM IST
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Day After Retirement, Justice Kurian Joseph Says Centre Intervening in Appointment of HC Judges
File photo of Justice Kurian Joseph. (PTI)
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New Delhi: Former Supreme Court judge Kurian Joseph has criticised the Centre for intervening in the appointment of judges in the High Court, particularly the delayed selection of Justice KM Joseph.

Joseph, who was speaking to the media on Friday, a day after he retired, denied that he had ever felt any government or political pressure, but said “in the matter of appointment, the manner in which appointments are being delayed and the appointments have been selectively delayed, the appointments have been withheld. All this are in a way interference”.

The former Supreme Court judge also said he had no regrets about the controversial January 12 press conference in which he, along with three other judges, flagged various issues with regard to functioning of the top court. Joseph, who was part of the press conference in which the now Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi, Justice MB Lokur and former judge J Chelameswar had raised serious questions including over allocation of cases in the top court, said the systems and practices in the apex court would take time to change as they have been there for quite long but “things are changing”.

Asked whether he regretted being part of the January 12 press conference, he replied, “What a strange question you are asking. I never regretted whatever I did, I did it very consciously for a cause and for a cause for which there was no other way left. That was the stage, when we did it".

When asked whether the crisis to which they had referred was now over in the apex court, Joseph said, "You can't say it fully that the crisis is over because it was an institutional crisis, so it takes a long time for the systems and the practices to change. Hopefully it would change".

Referring to CJI Gogoi, Justice Joseph said, "It's because one who was part of the clamour for change is also now the captain over there so things should change".

When Joseph was asked whether the problem of roster is now over in the apex court, he replied, "Probably that is the one mistake. It is not a question of roster. It was question of some unhealthy practice and systems which were followed in the Supreme Court but in the matter of business actually. So it was against that although roster was one of the issues but there were other issues along with that."

Elaborating on issues raised in the press conference, Justice Joseph said, "As I told that roster was one of the issue but not the only issue. There were certain systems and practices which we have been asking like instead of individual taking a decision without consulting anybody, let's have some systems and practices to be followed which would be healthy for the institutions". He said "it does not look nice particularly for an institutions like a court to have an individual exclusively or solely taking a decision".

"That's what we have been asking that let's have a consultative process. Some sort of consultative process," he said and added that such kind of process is at least happening now.

He also spoke on why the four judges of the top court chose to address a press conference, raising the problems on a public platform, and why they did not seek a full court meeting to sort out the problem in-house. "No judge can convene a full court meeting on its own. Only the chief justice can convene a full court meeting. It was for the CJI to convene a full court meeting. There were many such requests made in this regard," he said.

On allegations of government "interference" in judiciary especially in the context of high profile cases like Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri masjid dispute, Justice Joseph said he would not like to answer the questions with regard to issues which are currently pending before the court.
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