Lawyers inside the Supreme Court complex in New Delhi, India. (Source: Supreme Court of India Website)

Government Notifies New Appointments To Supreme Court Bench

After a long standoff between the senior judiciary and the government over the appointment of Uttarakhand Chief Justice KM Joseph as a Supreme Court judge, the Centre on Friday finally notified his name for appointment as an apex court judge.

Apart from Justice Joseph’s name, the Government also notified the appointment of Madras High Court Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Odisha High Court Chief Justice Vineet Saran for elevation to the top court.

The Supreme Court collegium – comprising of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice J Chelameswar (who has since retired), Justice Rajan Gogoi, Justice Madan B Lokur  and Justice Korien Jospeh – had on January 10 recommended the name of Justice Joseph for elevation to the Supreme Court. The government in its letters dated April 26 and April 30 returned the recommendation, seeking reconsideration. The government’s communication questioned Justice Joseph’s seniority as well as the fact that the state he comes from already has representation in the apex court.

The collegium had met on at least three occasions to consider the issue. However, a reiteration of the recommendation was deferred until such time that it could be sent along with other names suggested for appointment to the apex court. On July 16, the collegium reiterated Justice Joseph’s name for appointment.

The government’s decision to notify the appointments shows “some good sense at last,” said Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde while adding that the collegium does not make recommendations without basis.

Unless there is some information about the candidate which the government knows and the collegium doesn’t, the government should not try to double guess the collegium. Such endeavors on the government’s part will lead even its well-wishers to think that it is being unnecessarily vindictive if it loses a court case. 
Sanjay Hegde, Senior Advocate

The incident brings to mind delays in the appointment of Justice BN Srikrishna’s appointment during the years of the NDA-1 government, said Hegde. The situation did not reach that far, though, due to the sagacity shown, among others, by the then Attorney General Soli Sorabjee, he added.

“The appointment of Justice Joseph became a controversy for no reason. He will be a very fine addition to the Supreme Court,” said Hegde.

Senior Advocate KTS Tulsi said it was a matter of great relief that the appointment has been cleared. “Although it is delayed substantially, it is a welcome decision,” he said.

Particularly one is relived about the fear that the judges were going to be penalised for their judgments against the government.
KTS Tulsi, Senior Advocate

Justice Joseph had struck down the President’s rule in Uttarakhand in 2016, bringing back the Harish Rawat-led Congress government. But Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had denied the order had any bearing on the government’s decision asking the top court to reconsider his name.