Justice Joseph said that this court is reeling under pressure of work and working with a strength of 24, as against 31.
New Delhi: The Centre’s failure to act on the recommendations made by the collegium for appointment of two judges to the Supreme Court is an abuse of power and a “threat to the independence of the judiciary”, said Justice Kurian Joseph of the Supreme Court.
Justice Joseph, who was among the four judges who held a press conference on January 12 voicing dissatisfaction over the allocation of cases and selection of benches, in a strongly-worded to Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra sought the setting up of a seven-judge bench to decide this issue.
Justice Joseph, in his letter dated April 9, said: “Today we complete three months since we resolved to recommend Ms Indu Malhotra, senior advocate, and Uttarakhand high court chief justice K.M. Joseph for appointment as Supreme Court judges.”
He said it was the first time in the court’s history when nothing was known about what had happened to a recommendation even after three months. He said the government has a duty to take a call on the recommendation as soon as it is sent by the collegium, and a failure to discharge its duty was nothing but an abuse of power.
He said more than anything, it sent a wrong message that was loud and clear to all judges down the line not to cause any displeasure to the executive, lest they should suffer. “Is this not a threat to the independence of the judiciary?”, he asked.
The “very life and existence” of the Supreme Court was under threat, and “history will not pardon us” if the court doesn’t respond to the government’s unprecedented act of sitting on the collegium’s recommendations.
Expressing his anguish, Justice Joseph said: “In the Justice C.S. Karnan case (when seven judges passed a judicial order in May 2017)... if it was a threat to the dignity of the court, the present one is a threat to the very life and existence of the institution. This court is reeling under pressure of work and working with a strength of 24, as against 31.”
He said the “honour and respect of this institution is going down day by day since we are not able to take the recommendations for appointment to this court to their logical conclusion within the normally expected time”. He added: “I am more worried about the irreparable injury that is being caused by the wrong message sent to judges down the line. It appears your personal efforts have not been fruitful.”
Justice Joseph urged the CJI to establish a bench of the seven seniormost judges to suo motu take up the matter of the government sitting on the two names.