In view of this, it was decided that the collegium would meet again at 4.15 pm on Wednesday, May 16.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court collegium headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on Friday unanimously decided to reiterate its earlier recommendation to elevate Uttarakhand high court Chief Justice K.M. Joseph as a judge of the apex court.
With the collegium likely to assert its authority over the appointment of Supreme Court judges, this is expected to result in a major confrontation with the Centre, that has expressed its reservations on Justice Joseph’s choice for the nation’s highest court.
The resolution uploaded on the Supreme Court website says the collegium met to consider reiteration of the recommendation dated January 10, 2018 for elevation of Justice K.M. Joseph, Chief Justice, Uttarakhand high court, as a judge of the Supreme Court; and to consider the names of high court judges for elevation as judges of the Supreme Court.”
The Chief Justice and other members of the collegium have, on principle, unanimously agreed that the recommendation for appointment of Justice Joseph as a judge of the Supreme Court should be reiterated. But this should also be accompanied by the recommendation of the names of (other) chief justices of high courts for elevation as judges of the Supreme Court, for which a detailed discussion is required. In view of this, it was decided that the collegium would meet again at 4.15 pm on Wednesday, May 16.
Highly-placed sources said the meeting unanimously rejected the Centre’s stand on not accepting Justice Joseph’s elevation and decided to send a detailed and point-by-point response to Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad’s letters of April 26 and April 30 to the CJI. A wide range of issues relating to the appointment of judges from high courts which did not have representation was discussed, which was inconclusive. It was also felt the collegium should not give any “veto” power to the government to reject an appointment once the proposal had been thoroughly examined by the collegium.
The collegium also decided to send a few more names, taking into consideration there are seven vacancies to be filled in the court and five judges retiring shortly. The meeting on Friday was held after Justice J. Chelameswar sent a letter urging the CJI to take a call urgently on the issue of Justice Joseph’s elevation.
On April 26, the law minister had announced that the government had cleared the elevation of advocate Indu Malhotra and put on hold the elevation of Justice Joseph though both proposals were sent together on January 10 this year. She was sworn in as a Supreme Court judge on April 27. While seeking the collegium’s reconsideration of Justice Joseph’s elevation, Mr Prasad sought adequate representation for minorities and other high courts which were not represented.
Under the memorandum of procedure on appointment of judges that exists now, once the proposal is returned for reconsideration, and if the collegium reiterates its decision, the government is bound to accept it, but there is no time limit on such appointment.