Supreme Court judges on Monday met Chief Justice of India Dipak Mishra and registered their objection to Centre’s decision to lower down the seniority of Justice K M Joseph, who was recently elevated as the apex court judge after a long stand-off between the government and the judiciary. Joseph is scheduled to take oath as an apex court judge along with two others on Tuesday.
According to a PTI report, judges, including Justices M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, who are members of the collegium, met the CJI at the judges’ lounge during the tea before start of the day’s working. Justice Ranjan Gogoi, who is the senior-most judge after the CJI, was not present as he was on leave on Monday.
Sources told PTI that the CJI assured the judges that he would consult Justice Gogoi and take up the issue with the Centre. Besides the CJI and Justices Gogoi, Lokur and Joseph, the fifth member of the Collegium is Justice A K Sikri.
The government had last week came out with the notification on the appointment of three judges to the apex court by putting at number three the seniority of Justice K M Joseph. In the notification, the names of Justice Indira Banerjee, Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, was at number one followed by that of Justice Vineet Saran, Chief Justice of the Orissa High Court.
It is the convention that seniority of the judges is determined in accordance with the order of names notified by the government. The warrants of appointment of the three judges were signed by the President on August 3.
Allegations were made that Justice Joseph was not elevated as the apex court judge as he, during his tenure as the Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court, headed a bench which had quashed the imposition of President’s Rule in the state in 2016. Uttarakhand was then under the Congress rule.
The collegium had on January 10 recommended the name of Justice Joseph, along with that of senior advocate Indu Malhotra, for elevation to the apex court. However, the government had returned Justice Joseph’s name for reconsideration and gone ahead with the appointment of Justice Indu Malhotra, triggering sharp criticism from a group senior lawyers and judges as well as the opposition parties.
(With PTI inputs)