The appointment notification of three new judges to the Supreme Court places Justice KM Joseph at the third position, even though the collegium had recommended his name first in January. The collegium recommended names of the other two judges – Indira Banerjee and Vineet Saran – in July.
Joseph’s name for elevation to the top court earlier this year had led to a months-long stand-off between the Centre and the Supreme Court collegium. The Centre rejected the recommendation in April after sitting on it for three months. The collegium, however, reiterated Joseph’s name on July 16.
Joseph, the chief justice of the Uttarakhand High Court, was part of a two-judge bench that had struck down the Centre’s decision to impose President’s rule in Uttarakhand in March 2016.
An unidentified senior judge of the Supreme Court, who is a member of the collegium, told LiveLaw that the top judges will meet Chief Justice of India Justice Dipak Misra and complain against a clear “interference” in judicial appointments by the Centre. The notification will make Joseph junior to Banerjee and Saran, the judges feel, according to LiveLaw.
A circular issued by the Supreme Court registry on Saturday said that the three judges will be sworn in on Tuesday, and named them in the order: Banerjee, Saran and Joseph.
“It is a blatant interference by the government,” an unidentified Supreme Court judge told NDTV. “Justice Joseph’s name was sent first and reiterated by the collegium and his name should have been first in the appointment notification. But his name is the third, making him junior to the other two judges.”