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Justice Chelameswar May Not Witness KM Joseph's Elevation to Supreme Court Before Retirement

According to sources, there will not be any more Collegium meetings of Supreme Court judges before June 22 when Justice Chelameswar is set to demit office.

Utkarsh Anand | CNN-News18

Updated:June 16, 2018, 10:12 AM IST
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Justice Chelameswar May Not Witness KM Joseph's Elevation to Supreme Court Before Retirement
File photo of Supreme Court Judge Justice Chelameswar. (PTI)
New Delhi: Justice J Chelameswar, who first raised his voice for elevation of KM Joseph as a judge in the Supreme Court and kept up his efforts, will not see it happening before he retires.

According to sources, there will not be any more Collegium meetings of Supreme Court judges before June 22 when Justice Chelameswar is set to demit office.

"There is absolutely no indication from the CJI's office on having a meeting of the Collegium before the Supreme Court reopens after the summer break. Most of the judges in the Collegium are also out of the national capital," a source told CNN-News18.

This means that the decision on sending back the name of Justice KM Joseph to the central government will remain pending while Justice Chelameswar retires as a judge in the apex court.

The final call on reiterating Justice KM Joseph's name will, in fact, be taken by a new Collegium that would include Justice AK Sikri.

It will, however, be extremely difficult and also extraordinary for the new Collegium to decide against sending back Justice KM Joseph's name since there is already a resolution by the present Collegium, "unanimously" deciding in favour of reiteration of his name.

In February 2017, Justice Chelameswar had first recorded a strongly worded dissent note for not elevating Justice KM Joseph, the Uttarakhand High Court chief justice, to the Supreme Court.

The unparalleled note of dissent stood out also because Justice Joseph had in 2016 delivered the verdict quashing central rule in the hill state.

Justice Joseph "is an outstanding" judge with impeccable integrity and the most suitable judge for elevation to the Supreme Court, Justice Chelameswar had then written, taking strong exception to dropping the name from the list of the high court judges who were being recommended for elevation.

Justice Chelameswar again threw his weight behind Justice Joseph at a Collegium meeting in January 2018, and it was unanimously decided that his name should be sent to the government for elevation as a judge in the top court.

With the government comfortably sitting over the recommendation, Justice Chelameswar wrote to the CJI again in February this year, regretting how appointments were being “stalled” by the government.

"For some time, our unhappy experience has been that the Government’s accepting our recommendations is an exception and sitting on them is the norm. Inconvenient but able judges or judges to be are being bypassed through this route,” he wrote to CJI Dipak Misra.

Another member of the Collegium, Justice Kurian Joseph, in his letter dated April 9, also cautioned the CJI that "dignity, honour and respect of this institution is going down day by day" because of the judiciary's inability to get judges appointed.

But later that month, the Centre declined to process Justice Joseph's name for appointment in the Supreme Court and raised issues of his seniority and of regional representation in the Supreme Court.

In May, Justice Chelameswar wrote to the CJI once again, requesting him to convene a meeting of the Collegium to urgently reiterate to the Centre the name of Justice Joseph as judge of the apex court.

Subsequently, the Collegium, comprising CJI Misra and Justices Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, unanimously agreed in principle that Justice Joseph’s name will be reiterated to the government.

The final decision was, however, deferred because it was resolved that his name will be accompanied with the recommendation of other judges in high courts for elevation as judges of the Supreme Court.

The last Collegium meeting took place on May 16 but final decisions could not be reached regarding other names that ought to be sent along with Justice Joseph. And this delayed, for the third time in a row, reiteration of Justice Joseph's name by the Collegium.

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| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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