SC Collegium defers decision on Justice Joseph's elevation again

SC Collegium defers decision on Justice Joseph's elevation again

At its last meeting on May 11, the Collegium had agreed in principle to reiterate its recommendation for elevating Justice Joseph as a judge of the apex court, nearly three weeks after it was returned by the Centre.

Sources said it was considering sending Justice Joseph's name, along with other names being considered for Supreme Court judgeships.

At the May 11 meeting, the five-member Collegium agreed "in principle" to reiterate its January 10 recommendation to the government to elevate Justice Joseph.

Which means that even the recommendation of Justice Joseph's name gets delayed in the process. The collegium had earlier made a decision to consider other names from various high courts for appointment as SC judges and had deferred the deliberations to May 16.

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. The Centre had sent back Justice Joseph's name for reconsideration.

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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.

It had also said that the Kerala High Court being comparatively a smaller court, with a sanctioned strength of 42 judges, was a parent high court for Supreme Court judge Justice Kurian Joseph, and the Chief Justices of three high courts - Justice KM Joseph himself (Uttarakhand), Justice TB Radhakrishnan (Chhattisgarh) and Justice Antony Dominic (Kerala). Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad denies that the centre's decision had anything to do with the Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice's 2016 verdict cancelling President's rule in the state.

It is not first time that the government has sought to block a collegium decision on Justice Joseph.

The NJAC judgment marked the beginning of Justice Chelameswars journey of dissent which took several shapes later in the form of letter wars with CJIs on the issue of lack of transparency in collegium proceedings and public utterances to the effect.

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