The five senior-most judges of Supreme Court met again on Friday noon to take forward and formalise the resolution of the SC Collegium meeting, which went on for two hours on May 16. The matter of reiteration of the Uttarakhand Chief Justice, Justice KM Joseph, was expected to have taken place immediately, but as reported in The Indian Express, this did not happen.
Justice Joseph’s file was returned by the Centre but the other person recommended, Indu Malhotra, was sworn in.
The matter of ‘segregation’ of names and the return of Justice Joseph’s file is being seen as a symbol of judicial independence, as all eyes are on how far the Collegium is keen to assert itself to the Centre and insist its nominees get sworn in.
The Collegium, consisting of CJI Dipak Misra, and Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph, issued a resolution saying: “Today, in the meeting of the Collegium, a unanimous view was expressed that there should be further deliberation and broad-based consideration of the names of the Chief Justices as well as judges of the High Courts, which are at present not represented in the Supreme Court.”
It did not say when they would meet next, only stating, “in view of the above, the meeting stands deferred to be held at the earliest”.
The Centre will need a formal, signed resolution from the SC Collegium to be able to effect Justice Joseph’s swearing-in.
Justice Chelameswar is understood to have written to his other colleagues in the Collegium earlier this month putting down his grounds on why the Collegium must reiterate Justice K M Joseph’s name.
In case a meeting is called on or before June 22, it would be the same Collegium as the one that recommended his name for elevation. But as Justice Chelameswar retires on June 22 — he had his last working day on Friday — Justice A K Sikri would be the fifth member if the meeting is scheduled later. Five Judges retire this year from the Supreme Court.
Currently, there are 25 judges against Parliament-sanctioned strength of 31.