Supreme Court Justice Kurian Joseph on Sunday expressed his disappointment over the delay in elevation of Uttarakhand Chief Justice KM Joseph to the top court.
“Never has it happened before like this that the names sent by the collegium are asked to be reconsidered,” the judge told ANI. He added that the collegium will again meet this week to make a decision.
On May 2, the collegium of five most-senior judges of the Supreme Court had deferred a decision on reiterating its earlier recommendation to elevate Justice KM Joseph to the top court, a week after the government rejected his name. No reason was given for the deferment. The collegium consists of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph.
The collegium had recommended KM Joseph and lawyer Indu Malhotra for elevation as Supreme Court judges in January. After sitting on the proposal for over three months, the law ministry notified Malhotra’s appointment on April 26, but refused to clear Joseph’s name, and asked the top court to reconsider.
The ministry justified the decision saying there were 11 High Court chief justices senior to KM Joseph and none of those courts had representation in the Supreme Court. It also said judges from marginalised communities had not been appointed to the top court “for long”.
The Centre’s decision sparked a controversy because Joseph had, in 2016, headed a three-judge bench that quashed the government’s decision to impose President’s Rule in Uttarakhand. Though his request for a transfer to Andhra Pradesh and elevation to the top court have been blocked by the government since then, the Centre has rejected suggestions that it was because Joseph quashed the Centre’s decision in Uttarakhand.