Three new Supreme Court judges – Justices Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran and KM Joseph – took oath on Tuesday. The judges’ appointment notification has placed Joseph at third position even though he was the first to be recommended for elevation. This means Joseph will be junior to Banerjee and Saran.
On Monday, a few judges of the top court raised the matter with Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra as they wanted Joseph to get his due position in the seniority list.
The Supreme Court collegium recommended Joseph for elevation in January. But the Centre returned his file, arguing that he was junior to several other High Court chief justices, who were waiting to be elevated to the top court. It reasoned that Joseph’s parent High Court of Kerala was already adequately represented in the Supreme Court.
After the judges’ raised the matter, the chief justice reportedly consulted Attorney General KK Venugopal, who told him about the government’s position. The Centre claimed to have followed a “transparent seniority principle” in elevating the three judges. Unidentified government officials said both Justices Banerjee and Saran were two-and-a-half years senior to Justice Joseph.
“Justice Banerjee ranks number four in the all-India seniority list of High Court judges; Justice Saran ranks number five on the list; and Justice Joseph is at number 39 of the list,” an unidentified official had said.