SC Collegium to unanimously reiterate Justice KM Joseph's name for elevation

Supreme Court file

According to reports, the Centre had objected saying- Justice Joseph was 42nd in terms of seniority in High Court judges across the country and observed that there were 11 chief justices of different high courts who were senior to justice Joseph.

DESPITE objections from the Centre, the Supreme Court Collegium on Friday stood by its recommendation to elevate Uttarakhand Chief Justice Justice K M Joseph as judge of the apex court.

The face-off had begun when the collegium on January 10, 2018 while recommending Joseph's name stated that they found Justice KM Joseph to be "more deserving and suitable in all respects than other chief justices and senior puisne judges of high courts for being appointed as judges of the Supreme Court of India" The collegium in its resolution uploaded on its website said they had "considered Joseph's merit and integrity".

Friday's meeting took place against the backdrop of Justice Chelameswar's May 9 letter to the CJI insisting on reiteration of Justice K M Joseph's name as well as public statements of Justice Kurian Joseph in Kerala that the choice be restated quickly for the sake of protecting the judiciary's dignity and independence. "It would also not be fair to other more senior, suitable and deserving chief justices and senior judges of various HCs". "We have simply asked for reconsideration", he said, adding that the Centre's response is not linked to Justice Joseph being part of the Uttarakhand HC bench in 2016 which ruled against the government.

Earlier on May 2, the Collegium had met on the issue but had deferred its decision.

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Official sources said the members of the Collegium deliberated on the issue for almost an hour.

Justice Chelameshwar alleged that the administration of the Supreme Court was not in order.The judges claimed to have a written a letter to justice Mishra for which they had not received a reply.

The five-member Collegium, comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, which met this afternoon, said that "on principle", it "unanimously agreed that the recommendation...should be reiterated". Under this, the Justice Joseph file would be sent along with names of other judges for the Supreme Court. Until then, Justice Joseph's name will not be sent back to the Centre. "To consider names of High Court Judges for elevation as Judges of the Supreme Court".

Justice Chelameswar, who retires on June 22, was also understood to have responded to all the points raised in the communication to the CJI by Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad expressing reservations on the elevation of Justice Joseph. It also questioned his seniority for elevation as a judge of the Supreme Court.

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