The Supreme Court Collegium today deferred a decision on the issue of reconsidering its recommendation to elevate Uttarakhand Chief Justice KM Joseph as the judge of the apex court, after it was sent back by the government last week.
The five-member Collegium comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph met after the top court’s working hours, but no decision was taken. There was no official word on when the Collegium would meet next.
Besides Justice Jospeph, the agenda of the Collegium was to deliberate on the names of some judges from Calcutta, Rajasthan and Telangana and Andhra Pradesh high courts for elevation as apex court judges.
Justice Joseph's name was recommended along with then senior advocate Indu Malhotra on Jan. 10 for their elevation as apex court judges. The government had on April 26 declined to accept the recommendation of the Collegium and asked it to reconsider Justice Joseph's name.
Justice Joseph, who had headed the bench that had quashed the Narendra Modi government's decision to impose President’s rule in the Congress-ruled hill state in 2016, was not considered to be elevated as a Supreme Court judge by the Centre. The government had said that the proposal for his name 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 had said "he stands at Sl. No.45 in the combined seniority of High Court Judges on all-India basis." 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 High Court on July 31, 2014.
The members of the collegium including Justices Chelameswar, Gogoi, Lokur and Kurian Joseph had expressed concern over the delay of the government in clearing the name of the Uttarakhand Chief Justice as the apex court judge.
Notwithstanding the letters written by the collegium members to the CJI which had come into the public domain, the Centre disregarded the recommendation about Justice Joseph.