Collegium's decision on KM Joseph not known

Ceria Alfonso
May 17, 2018

It was attended by all five members of the Collegium, CJI Dipak Misra and Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph. Highly-placed sources said at the almost two-hour meeting, though there was consensus and unanimity to reiterate Justice Joseph's elevation, there was no consensus in respect of other names, viz the Chief Justices of Madras, Gujarat, Karnataka and few other high courts.

According to the sources, since Justice K.M. Joseph's name had already been "in principle" reiterated at the last meeting, not much of Wednesday's discussion revolved around him. However, the Supreme Court Collegium has made a decision to defer consideration of their names for now.

"In view of the above, the Collegium resolves to recommend, for the present, that Mr. Justice Ramchandra Singh Jhala, Additional Judge be appointed as Permanent Judge of the Rajasthan High Court against one of the existing vacancies".

Besides Justice Joseph, the collegium had on January 10 also recommended the appointment of Senior Counsel (now a Judge) Indu Malhotra to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court collegium of five senior Judges, which met on Friday, agreed "in principle" that it would reiterate its previous recommendation - returned by the Centre for reconsideration - on appointing the chief justice of the Uttarakhand high court, Justice K.M.Joseph, as a judge of the apex court.

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The meeting failed to reiterate Justice K M Joseph's name despite having pre-arranged to meet to do precisely that last week, apart from suggesting other names for the Supreme Court.

There are now seven vacancies in the Supreme Court, with two more vacancies likely to arise in the next two months, due to the retirement of Justices J. Chelameswar on June 22, and Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, on July 6.

The government had also flagged the issue of non-representation of SC/ST judges in the apex court. The date of the next Collegium meeting too has not been fixed. But it has made a decision to do so only while recommending - presumably on May 16 - the elevation of other chief justices of high courts, who may be in the zone of consideration, for appointment as Supreme court judges. As a result, this delayed the proposal on appointment of Justice K M Joseph.

However, the general perception is that Justice Joseph had earned the displeasure of the Central government after a bench headed by him had ruled against the imposition of President's rule in Uttarakhand. Ex-CJI R M Lodha said that the government's "segregation" of the recommendations "strikes at the very heart of the independence of the judiciary".

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