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Centre interfering in judicial functioning by elevating Indu Malhotra:SC Bar

NEW DELHI: A day after the Central government cleared the appointment of senior advocate Indu Malhotra as a judge of the apex court, Supreme Court Bar Association while welcoming the decision called it an interference in the working of the judiciary as Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice KM Joseph’s elevation is yet to be finalised.

Indu Malhotra is a fine lawyer & she will prove to be a great judge. I have a huge reservation at the attitude of the government, there is no way by which they should not have cleared Justice KM Joseph’s name. By making one appointment and not making another, the government has interfered in the functioning of the judiciary. This is a very serious matter and should be taken up with the government very strongly,” Supreme Court Bar Association President Advocate Vikas Singh told ANI.

While Indu Malhotra’s appointment is historic as she will be the first woman judge to be appointed to the top post directly from the bar, the development indicates that the government has decided to put on hold the elevation of Justice KM Joseph.

As per reports, the apex court collegium’s file recommending the elevation of Justice Joseph and Indu Malhotra reached the Law Ministry on January 22. After processing the file in the first week of February, the recommendations were kept in abeyance as the government wanted to elevate only Malhotra.

The government feels that while recommending the name of Justice Joseph, the collegium has disregarded seniority and regional representation. He is 42nd in the seniority list of 669 high court judges. Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad would reportedly write to Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra about its decision to appoint only Indu Malhotra. The Supreme Court collegium has Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra as its head and includes the four senior-most judges – Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph.