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Unlike Justice KM Joseph, 'Seniority' Didn't Stall Elevation of 2 Future CJIs

Justice Ranjan Gogoi, who is slated to take charge in October after incumbent CJI Dipak Misra demits office, was elevated to the apex court, bypassing more senior chief justices and judges in high courts.

Utkarsh Anand | CNN-News18

Updated:April 28, 2018, 2:18 PM IST
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Unlike Justice KM Joseph, 'Seniority' Didn't Stall Elevation of 2 Future CJIs
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New Delhi: In building a case against the elevation of Justice KM Joseph to the Supreme Court, the government has cited all-India seniority norm, but it might have lost sight of the fact that at least two future Chief Justices of India, including the next in line, were picked against the same standard.

Justice Ranjan Gogoi, who is slated to take charge in October after incumbent CJI Dipak Misra demits office, was elevated to the apex court, bypassing more senior chief justices and judges in high courts.

Justice Gogoi was elevated as a Supreme Court judge in April 2012 from the Punjab and Haryana High Court where he had been serving as the Chief Justice since February 2011.

At the time of his elevation, there were other chief justices who were much senior to Justice Gogoi, but the Collegium had recommended his name and the government accepted it.

The same is true for Justice Kurian Joseph. When Justice Joseph was appointed as a judge in the apex court in March 2013, the Collegium's recommendation meant superseding several other senior High Court judges.

When Justice AK Sikri was appointed as a Supreme Court judge in 2013, his appointment also came in after bypassing several other senior judges in the high courts.

Another Supreme Court judge, in line to become the CJI, Justice SA Bobde was also elevated to the top court against the latest standard cited by the government in the case of Justice KM Joseph. Justice Bobde was appointed along with Justice Sikri in 2013.

Justice Adarsh K Goel also falls into the category of judges in the top court who jumped the queue to be elevated. Justice Goel was appointed as an SC judge in July 2014 and he is set to retire in July this year after a relatively short tenure of four years.

Similarly, Justice Deepak Gupta, who was appointed as an SC judge last year, was way down in the all-India seniority list of High Court judges, and this is true also for Justice SA Nazeer.

Sources in the Collegium told CNN-News18 that all-India seniority norm has never been the only consideration while picking a judge for the top court since there are several other factors that also require to be taken into account while making the selection.

"What usually weighs with the Collegium is the fact whether the judge concerned is senior in that particular High Court or not. Here we have Justice KM Joseph who will complete four years as a Chief Justice of a High Court in a few months," a source said.

They added that when the Collegium recommended his name, it stated unequivocally that although Justice KM Joseph was not at the top in the senior list, he was being picked up because he was found to be more deserving and suitable.

"Where is the question now of the government getting back with an objection that has already been dealt with at the time of making the recommendation? The government cannot sit in appeal over the Collegium's recommendation," a source said.

They further said that the Collegium is likely to meet next week and a decision will be taken on reiteration of Justice KM Joseph's name to the government.


| Edited by: Puja Menon
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