The Supreme Court collegium has decided to take the final call on the reiteration of recommendation to elevate Chief Justice of Uttarakhand High Court, Justice K.M. Joseph's elevation to the Supreme Court during its next meeting on 16 May.
The Chief Justice and other members of the Collegium have, on principle, unanimously agreed that the recommendation for appointment of Mr. Justice K.M. Joseph, Chief Justice, Uttarakhand High Court [PHC: Kerala] as a Judge of the Supreme Court should be reiterated. However, the said reiteration should also be accompanied by the recommendation of the names of Chief Justices of High Courts for elevation as Judges of the Supreme Court, for which detailed discussion is required.
The Collegium, comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices J. Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, MB Lokur, and Kurian Joseph intends to send back the recommendation along with a few other names for appointment as Apex Court Judges.
The Collegium had, last week, deferred its decision on the issue of reiteration of Justice Joseph’s candidature after the Centre rejected its recommendation last week noting that it would “not be fair and justified to other more senior, suitable and deserving Chief Justices and senior Puisne Judges of various High Courts.”
This was despite the fact that while recommending him in January, the resolution signed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Justice J. Chelameswar, Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice M.B. Lokur and Justice Kurian Joseph had stated that they found Justice K.M. Joseph to be “more deserving and suitable in all respects than other Chief Justices and senior Puisne Judges of High Courts for being appointed as Judges of the Supreme Court of India.”
The resolution had, in fact, specifically mentioned that the decision was being taken after considering the combined seniority of Chief Justices and senior Puisne Judges of High Courts, apart from their merit and integrity.
Several jurists, former Judges and Advocates have since then stepped forth, calling out the Centre for the move, and demanding reiteration of the recommendation by the Collegium.
Justice Joseph’s appointment has been in the pipeline for quite some time now. As Chief Justice of Uttarakhand High Court, Justice Joseph had pronounced a judgment quashing the President’s rule imposed in the State of Uttarakhand. The Collegium had then, in May, 2016, recommended his transfer from Uttarakhand High Court to the High Court of Andhra Pradesh & Telangana. However, this hasn’t materialized yet. Thereafter, last year in February, Justice Chelameswar had also questioned Justice K.M. Joseph’s exclusion from the recommendations for elevation to the Apex Court.