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Collegium must reiterate stand to elevate KM Joseph: Justice Chelameswar to CJI

New Delhi: Justice Jasti Chelameswar has written to Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra saying the group of top five judges must meet soon and take a firm stand to reiterate their decision to elevate Justice Kuttiyil Mathew Joseph (KM Joseph) after the government sent back his name.

According to reports, the second-most senior member of the Supreme Court collegium said in his letter to the Chief Justice said that since he was retiring on June 22, the reiteration must be done at the earliest and the file recommending Justice KM Joseph’s appointment to the apex court sent back to government.

According to NDTV report, sources say Justice Chelameswar’s letter is a rebuttal of the points that Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has made while urging the judges to reconsider the promotion of Justice KM Joseph – Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice – to the Supreme Court.

After the Centre’s rejection of Justice KM Joseph, the collegium or group of five most senior judges, met on May 2 but deferred announcing a decision on elevation of Justice KM Joseph.

NDTV sources say no collegium meeting has been scheduled yet on this.

On January 12, the collegium recommended Justice KM Joseph and senior advocate Indu Malhotra as judges to the Supreme Court. The Union government on April 26 responded to the recommendation by approving the appointment of Indu Malhotra, but returned Justice KM Joseph’s file to the collegium for reconsideration.

The Centre’s objection to Justice KM Joseph has been linked to his decision to cancel President’s rule in Uttarakhand in 2016, which facilitated the return of the Congress government in the state. Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has, however, denied this.

If the collegium sends back a name, the Centre has no choice but to accept it.

The Centre argued that Justice KM Joseph was not senior enough – he is number 42 in the All India High Court Judge’s list. It also said he was from Kerala, which is already represented, and that that there were no judges from Dalit backgrounds.

The Supreme Court is currently functioning with 24 Judges as against the strength of 31, sanctioned by Parliament.