The government has agreed to elevate Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice K M Joseph to the Supreme Court, after the Collegium reiterated its decision despite the Centre’s reservations. The Indian Express reported that the process towards the issuance of presidential warrant for his appointment has been set in motion.
Justice Joseph’s name was first recommended by the Collegium on January 10. The government had returned Justice Joseph’s name on April 26 for reconsideration. On July 16, the Collegium reiterated his name. The issue of appointments in the higher judiciary has been a point of contention between the government and the judiciary.
The Collegium comprises Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices (now retired) J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph.
Who is Justice K M Joseph?
Carrying the legacy of his late father Justice K K Mathew, who was a judge of the Supreme Court, Justice K M Joseph served as a permanent judge of the Kerala High Court from 2004 to 2014. On July 31, 2014, he was sworn in as the ninth Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court.
After studying law at the Government Law College, Ernakulam in Kerala, Justice Joseph enrolled himself as a lawyer in 1982. He started his legal practice from the Delhi High Court.
Justice Joseph has passed judgments with far-reaching political implications. In a ruling in 2016, he had cancelled President’s rule in Uttarakhand and brought back the Harish Rawat-led Congress government to power. The judgment was seen as major set back to the BJP-ruled government at the Centre.
As a judge of the Kerala High Court, Justice Joseph had passed an order to demolish the Kapico resorts built on a private island at Nediyathuruthu near Alappuzha which was constructed illegally.
When he was being considered for the Supreme Court, Justice Chelameswar had described him as “an outstanding judge with impeccable integrity and the most suitable judge for elevation to the Supreme Court. By not elevating a highly competent judge like Justice Joseph, the Collegium was setting an unhealthy precedent.”