THE SUPREME Court Collegium is likely to send back to the Government its recommendation to elevate Uttarakhand Chief Justice KM Joseph to the apex court, senior judge Justice Kurian Joseph has indicated.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Justice Kurian Joseph said, “The Collegium might have to reiterate its recommendation furnishing facts and figures, and citing precedent, which have not been put in perspective by the Government when it returned his name.” Justice Kurian Joseph is one of the senior members of the Collegium, which is scheduled to meet Wednesday.
Last Thursday, the Government returned for reconsideration the Collegium’s recommendation to elevate Justice K M Joseph even as it notified the appointment of senior advocate Indu Malhotra as a judge of the apex court. Both names had been recommended by the Collegium on January 10.
Among the reasons listed by the government for returning Justice K M Joseph’s name were: He is at serial number 42 in the All India High Court Judges’ Seniority List; his parent High Court of Kerala has “adequate representation in the Supreme Court”; several High Courts are “not represented in the Supreme Court at present”; and, “there is no representation of Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe communities in the Supreme Court since long”.
Justice Kurian Joseph said the current government had “sat over” Justice K M Joseph’s issue earlier, too.
“This is not the first time this Government has sat over his file. Justice Joseph had, two years ago, asked for a transfer to the plains on health grounds. He had health issues and had asked for a transfer to save himself from the biting cold in the hills and the Supreme Court had sent the file, transferring him to the High Court of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. But the Government has kept silent on it till date,” he said.
“This has never happened in the history of the Supreme Court,” Justice Kurian Joseph said.
Justice K M Joseph had sought the transfer after he had quashed the order of the central government putting Uttarakhand under President’s Rule in April 2016. Sources said Justice K M Joseph’s name was circulated for elevation to the apex court in 2017 along with those of Justices S K Kaul, M M Shantanagoudar, S A Nazeer, Navin Sinha and Deepak Gupta.
Justice Kurian Joseph said the Collegium would respond to the letter sent by the Government on April 26, and put the “facts as facts” and “the precedents” also. “The actual facts will be put up before the Government,” he said.
Earlier this month, Justice Kurian Joseph had written to the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on the Government’s delay in responding to the Collegium’s recommendation. In the letter, he had warned that the “very life and existence” of the Supreme Court was under threat.
Justice Kurian Joseph is also one of the four senior judges, along with Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi and Madan Lokur, who held a press conference on January 12 to raise questions over the functioning of the Chief Justice of India, particularly on allocating cases. The four judges are part of the Collegium along with CJI Misra.