DECISION On KM Joseph’s Elevation to SC Deferred

THE Collegium of five senior most judges of the Supreme Court of India has deferred its earlier recommendation to elevate Uttarakhand High Court’s Justice Kuttiyil Mathew Joseph to the country’s top court. The Central Government has rejected the Collegium’s recommendation and sent to it for reconsideration. The Collegium met on Wednesday for 45 to 50 minutes .It comprised Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph. The Collegium had also considered names of judges from three other high courts in view of what the court called, was the “concept of fair representation”. But a decision on the appointments had been deferred, a resolution by the Supreme Court said after the meeting of the Collegium. One of the grounds cited by the government to reject Uttarakhand Chief Justice KM Joseph’s elevation was that this would increase the number of judges from the Kerala High Court to two though there were many high courts which did not have any representation in the top court’s bench. Besides, he ranks 42nd among the judges including 11 Chief Justices of various courts. The Collegium’s decision to “consider the names of judges from Calcutta, Rajasthan and Telangana and Andhra Pradesh High Courts” for elevation to the Supreme Court is seen as an effort to address the government’s concern and fill more vacancies in the apex court. Hours before the Supreme Court’s five most-senior judges sat down to discuss Justice KM Joseph’s elevation, the government insisted that its decision to stop the Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice’s appointment did not have anything to do with his 2016 verdict cancelling President’s rule in Uttarakhand then under Congress rule. The Collegium had in January this year recommended KM Joseph and lawyer Indu Malhotra for elevation as Supreme Court judges. After sitting on the proposal for more than three months, the Union Ministry for Law and Justice headed by Ravi Shankar Prasad notified Malhotra’s appointment on April 26, but refused to clear KM Joseph’s name, and asked the apex court to reconsider. The ministry had justified the decision by saying there were 11 High Court chief justices who were senior to KM Joseph, and none of those courts had representations in the Supreme Court at present. It also said judges from marginalised communities had not been appointed to the Supreme Court “for long”. Against the sanctioned of 332 judges, there are at present 25 judges.SC judges  retire at the age of 65.While Chelameswar is due to retire on June 22, justices Madan Lokur and Kurien Joseph will retire by the end of the year  and CJI Dipak Misra will superannuate on October 10. Cochi born KM Joseph, who will be 60 on June 17, was appointed Chief Justice of Uttarakhand High Court on July 31, 2014 after serving as a judge of the Kerala High Court for nine years.


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