President Ram Nath Kovind Friday appointed Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice K M Joseph as a judge in the Supreme Court. The government had agreed to the elevation of Justice Joseph after the SC Collegium reiterated its decision despite the Centre’s reservations. The Indian Express was first to report that the government had forwarded Justice Joseph’s name to the President.
Justice Joseph’s elevation to the Supreme Court: A timeline
August 3, 2018: The President of India, under the provisions of Article 124 of the Constitution, issued the warrant of appointment for Justice Joseph and two other judges, Madras High Court Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Orissa HC CJ Vineet Saran to the Supreme Court.
As he turned 60 on June 17, Justice Joseph will serve as the Supreme Court judge for over four years.
August 2, 2018: The Indian Express reported that the government had agreed to the recommendation and was forwarding his name to receive the Presidential assent.
July 16, 2018: The Collegium reiterated his name to the government.
April 26, 2018: The government returned Justice Joseph’s file to the Collegium. The Law Minister, in a letter to the CJI, cited his standing in the all-India seniority list of High Court judges, adequate representation for the Kerala High Court – which is his parent High Court – in the apex court, and lack of representation of some other High Courts as reasons to reconsider the recommendation.
It was speculated, during this time, that the government was sitting on his appointment to the Supreme Court due to Justice Joseph’s ruling on President’s Rule in Uttarakhand. Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad later denied this.
January 10, 2018: Justice Joseph’s name was first recommended by the Collegium — which comprises Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices (now retired) J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph — on January 10.
Two days later, four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court — Justice (now retired) J Chelameswar, Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph — held an unprecedented press conference on January 12, during which they raised the issue of interference in the judiciary.
The delay in the appointment of judges led to all four judges, on separate occasions in the following months, alleging government interference in the judiciary.
April 21, 2016: A bench headed by Justice Joseph cancelled President’s Rule imposed by the Centre in the state. The judgment, which reinstated the Harish Rawat-led Congress government, was a major setback for the BJP.
July 31, 2014: Justice Joseph was sworn in as the ninth Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court in 2014. He is the longest-serving Chief Justice of a High Court in the country.
October 2004: Justice Joseph graduated from Loyola College in Chennai and secured his law degree from Law College in Kerala’s Ernakulum. After enrolling himself as a lawyer in 1982, he started his legal practice from the Delhi High Court.
Being a member of the bar, Justice Joseph was elevated directly as the permanent judge of the Kerala HC in October 2004. He served as a permanent judge of the Kerala High Court till 2014. Justice Joseph is currently the senior-most judge in the parent HC.