SC collegium defers decision on K M Joseph

New Delhi: The Supreme Court collegium on Wednesday deferred its decision on Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice K M Joseph (pictured), whose name for elevation to the top court was returned by the government last week for reconsideration even as the Centre maintained that the rejection had nothing to do with his judgment in quashing President’s Rule in Uttarakhand last year.
A decision to reconsider the recommendation was deferred after the collegium comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and four other senior most judges — Justices Jasti Chelameshwar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph — met for about 45 minutes.
The Central government on April 26 sent back Justice Joseph’s recommendation for reconsideration.
“The proposal for reconsideration of the case of K M Joseph has the approval of President and Prime Minister,” said the letter that was sent to the Chief Justice by Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
Justice Chelameswar, who did not attend the court on Wednesday, however, came to attend the collegium meeting.
In a brief statement issued on Wednesday, the collegium, while recording that besides reconsidering the recommendation of Justice Joseph, it also met to also consider names of judges from other high courts for elevation to the Supreme Court.
The statement said that the decision was “deferred” and did not give the next date of the meeting of the collegium.
After sitting over the collegium’s recommendations for over three months, the Central government on April 26 cleared the name of senior lawyer Indu Malhotra (now judge) but returned the recommendation of Justice Joseph for reconsideration.
At a post cabinet briefing, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government decision to return the file of Justice Joseph had “nothing to do with his order quashing the President’s Rule in Uttarakhand”.
“I wish to deny with all authority at my command it has nothing to do with it (Justice Joseph’s decision) at all for two obvious reasons.
“Firstly, a proper (BJP-led) government with nearly three-fourth majority has been elected in Uttarakhand. “Secondly, that order was confirmed by Justice (J S) Khehar of the Supreme Court,” the minister said in response to a media query.
The government decision to send back Justice Joseph’s recommendation for reconsideration was met with sharp criticism by the former chief justices of the top court and others.
They unanimously said that returning the recommendation of Justice Joseph was an attack on the independence of judiciary. — IANS