Warding off growing pressure for immediate reiteration of Uttarakhand chief justice K M Joseph's name for appointment as an SC judge, the Supreme Court's five-member collegium, headed by CJI Dipak Misra, on Wednesday "unanimously" deferred restating its choice that was sent back by the Centre for reconsideration.
CJI Misra was of the view that judges from the high courts of Rajasthan, Calcutta and Andhra Pradesh and Telangana should be considered along with the proposal to elevate Justice Joseph, the person said on condition of anonymity. Firstly, a proper (BJP-led) government with almost three-fourth majority has been elected in Uttarakhand.
The CJI said that it was inappropriate to put on hold the appointment of Indu Malhotra as a judge in the Supreme Court just because the central government has not cleared Justice KM Joseph's name.
Contrary to speculations, sources confirmed to TNIE that though the agenda was to examine the government's response to Justice Joseph's elevation, during the brief meeting they agreed to discuss it at length early next week when the collegium will meet again.
He was appointed a permanent judge of the Kerala High Court on October 14, 2004, and assumed charge of the Uttarakhand High Court on July 31, 2014.
It was also learnt that the collegium did not discuss any specific names of other high court chief justices for elevation to the Supreme Court.
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Many backers of the Uttarakhand Chief Justice have alleged that he is being penalised for his verdict striking down the dismissal of the Congress government in the state previous year and are keen on his early elevation since the Centre will have no choice but to acquiesce to any reiteration by the collegium. The decision to block elevation of Justice Joseph looks political.
After more than three months, the Centre cleared the file of Indu Malhotra and notified her appointment to the Supreme Court on April 26.
Last week, the Centre had refused to accept the decision of the collegium to elevate Justice Joseph.
"What kind of prayer is this", the top court bench, also comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, said, adding that the Centre is "well within its right to send back the recommendation for reconsideration".
After putting on hold justice Joseph's elevation, law minister wrote to the CJI that it would "not be fair and justified to other more senior, suitable, and deserving chief justices and senior judges of various high courts". In fact, a senior advocate had even filed a petition seeking stay on the oath of Justice Malhotra till Justice Joseph's name was reiterated.