SC collegium defers decision on Justice KM Joseph’s elevation

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NEW DELHI, May 2: The Supreme Court collegium has defered its decision on the Centre’s request to reconsider name of Uttarakhand high court Chief Justice KM Joseph for elevation to the top court.
The collegium, which comprises Chief Justice Dipak Misra, and justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph met today to reconsider the case of Justice KM Joseph’s elevation as a judge of the Supreme Court. The collegium also reserved its decision on names of judges from Calcutta, Rajasthan and Telengana and Andhra Pradesh high courts for appointment as SC judges.
An official told PTI that the collegium discussed threadbare the note sent to the CJI by Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad while returning the file recommending to elevate Justice Joseph as an apex court judge.
Justice Joseph’s name was recommended along with senior advocate Indu Malhotra on January 10 for their elevation as SC judges. While Malhotra was sworn in as a judge of the apex court on April 27, the Centre declined to accept the recommendation of the collegium and asked it to reconsider Joseph’s name.
Last week, the top court had said the government is within its rights to send back a judge’s name for reconsideration and in such an eventuality, the Collegium will deal with it in accordance with judicial precedent and the Constitution.
Justice K M Joseph, who had headed the bench that had quashed the Narendra Modi government’s decision to impose President’s rule in the Congress-ruled Uttarakhand 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.”
Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has rejected suggestions that the government was stalling Justice Joseph’s appointment as a SC judge because he had overturned the imposition of President’s Rule in the hill state.
“I wish to deny with all authority at my command. It has nothing to do with that at all,” he told reporters today, and went on to accuse the Congress of leveling “sponsored allegations” against the NDA government.
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 HC on July 31, 2014. (Agencies)