New Delhi: Seven months after the Supreme Court’s recommendation, the Centre approved the elevation of Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice KM Joseph to the Supreme Court.
Justice Joseph’s name as SC judge was cleared along with Madras High Court Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Orissa High Court Chief Justice Vineet Saran.
A five-member Supreme Court collegium comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph had recommended Jusice KM Joseph’s name for the first time on January 10, 2018, along with senior counsel and now a Supreme Court judge, Indu Malhotra.
The Centre cleared Indu Malhotra’s name but withheld Justice Joseph’s name.
The Centre had on April 30 returned the recommendation for reconsideration by the collegium and registered its objection to Justice Joseph’s stating lack of seniority.
The Centre had objected to Justice Joseph’s elevation, saying his name figured in the all-India seniority list of judges and that such an elevation would supersede many and demolish legitimate expectations of high court judges for appointment to the Supreme Court.
The objection to Justice Joseph’s elevation by the Centre was speculated to be because of Uttarakhand Chief Justice striking down imposition of President’s rule in the state by the BJP-led NDA government in 2016 after dismissing a Congress government led by Harish Rawat. Eventually, Congress led by Harish Rawat was reinstated after the apex court intervened to hold a floor test.
However, on May 16, the collegium unanimously reiterated the decision to recommend Justice Jospeh’s name but did not send it to the government. It wanted to select more candidates for appointment to the top court as there were six vacancies at that time.