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Justice Joseph's Name Rejected Because Govt Wants to Pack Judiciary With Its Men: Kapil Sibal

Sibal said that government can only reject Collegium's recommendations over corruption or security concerns and it was time for SC judges to say “enough is enough” to such a government stand.

Debayan Roy | News18.com

Updated:April 26, 2018, 4:40 PM IST
Justice Joseph's Name Rejected Because Govt Wants to Pack Judiciary With Its Men: Kapil Sibal
File photo of senior Congress leader Kapil SIbal. (PTI)

New Delhi: The Congress party lashed out at the Narendra Modi government on Thursday for rejecting Uttarakhand Chief Justice KM Joseph’s elevation to the Supreme Court, calling it an attempt to pack the higher judiciary with “judges who are in favour of the government”.

The government has sent back Justice Joseph's name to the Collegium and has written to Chief Justice Dipak Misra that it cannot recommend it “in terms of seniority and merit and fair representation”.

Indu Malhotra, the second name recommended by the Collegium or group of five senior-most judges, was cleared on Wednesday night, three months after both names went to the Centre for approval.

Congress leader Kapil Sibal said it was time for the SC judges to say “enough is enough” to such a government stand.

A senior lawyer himself, Sibal told News18 that a Collegium recommendation can be “rejected only in terms of security and corruption” and “it (the government) was not supposed to get into a confrontation with the judiciary”.

“Government can indeed say no to a Collegium recommendation but it needs to be due to security or corruption concerns. We earlier did not stop CJI Dipak Misra's elevation to HCs because that was the Collegium recommendation and we supported it. That's what the government should do and not get into a confrontation,” said Sibal.

Sibal also rejected the government’s charge that Justice Joseph’s elevation was out of line and there were other judges more senior, saying that Collegium had in its recommendation found him to the most suitable HC judge.

Reading from the Collegium’s January 10 note of recommendation in favour of Justice Joseph, he said, “The collegium considers that at present Justice KM Joseph is more deserving and suitable than other judges of the High courts to be appointed as SC judge.”

Lashing out at the government, Sibal said this rejection was solely done to have “judges in the SC who are in favour of the government.”

“This is a huge loss for the litigant. We want to ask today who will stand up for judicial independence. Will the judiciary stand up and say enough is enough? If SC thinks there is no one else more competent than Justice Joseph then how can government raise a finger on this?” he asked.

“Right now the approved of strength of HC judges is 1089 and there are around 410 vacancies. They want to pack judiciary with their own judges,” he added.

CJI Dipak Misra, however, has stated there was “nothing wrong” in government asking for a reconsideration of Justice KM Joseph’s elevation and he would not halt the elevation of Indu Malhotra as a SC judge despite protestations from the legal fraternity that both names should be passed together.

There have been reports that the sole reason why the government is blocking the appointment of Justice Joseph is because he was the one who struck down the presidential rule in Uttarakhand and allowed the Harish Rawat-led Congress regime take over the state.

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| Edited by: Aakarshuk Sarna
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