Govt to sit on SC recommendation for elevation of Justice K M Joseph

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NEW DELHI: The government of India is likely to put the Supreme Court collegium’s second recommendation to elevate Jharkhand Chief Justice K M Joseph to the apex court in the cold storage.

 

According to a report in Hindustan Times, the union law ministry has processed files of only two the three judges made in the recommendation on July 16. Quoting sources in the law ministry, the report said that the ministry had moved the files of only Orissa High Court Chief Justice Vineet Saran and Madras High Court Chief Justice Indira Banerjee.

The government had rejected the collegium’s first recommendation for the promotion of Justice Joseph in April citing issues related to seniority and regional representation and asked the collegium to reconsider its position.

On May 16, the collegium deferred the decision saying there was need for further deliberation and broad-based consideration of the names of the chief justices as well as judges of the high courts which are at present not represented in the Supreme Court.

However, in its the July 16 meeting, the collegium reiterated its May 16 recommendation saying that it had considered all the aspects and there was nothing adverse regarding the suitability of Joseph’s candidature for elevation to the higher judiciary.  

There is no provision in the constitution for the central government to reject the reiterated recommendation of the collegium. As per the constitution, if the collegium reiterates its choice in the second recommendation, then the centre is bound to accept it.

The law ministry decision to move the files of only two judges shows that it may sit on the file concerning Justice K M Joseph, who became an eye sour to the government after a bench headed by him quashed the imposition of President's rule in Uttarakhand after the dismissal of the Congress government led by Harish Rawat in 2016.

The government had earlier cited three reasons for refusing to approve the Supreme Court Collegium’s recommendation to elevate Justice KM Joseph. The centre said the proposal was not in accordance with the apex court’s parameters of regional representation, seniority and no SC/ST representation.

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had justified the decision saying there was “adequate representation” for Kerala, from where Justice Joseph hails, in the apex court. Besides one judge from the state in the SC, there are three Chief Justices in the high courts.

Meanwhile, the government came under flak in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday for sending back justice Joseph’s name to the collegium, according to a report in Indian Express. Congress leader in the House, Mallikarjun Kharge, charged the government with playing favourites.

Image Credit: Telegraph India 

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