New Delhi: The Supreme Court collegium has reiterated its recommendation to elevate Uttarakhand high court chief justice K.M Joseph to the apex court, in a move that threatens to widen the rift between the executive and the judiciary.
The collegium has also recommended the appointment of chief justice of Madras high court Indira Banerjee and chief justice of Odisha high court Vineet Saran as Supreme Court judges.
The collegium, consisting of the five senior most judges of the Supreme Court—Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B. Lokur, Kurian Joseph and A.K. Sikri—in its resolution of 16 July said it has “carefully considered the observations made by the law minister in his letters dated 26 April and 30 April 2018 on reconsideration of Justice Joseph’s name for elevation" to the top court.
“The collegium, on due consideration of all aspects mentioned in the aforesaid two letters, resolves to reiterate the aforesaid recommendation, especially since nothing adverse regarding the suitability of K.M. Joseph has been pointed out in the aforesaid letters," it said.
In April this year, the government had rejected the recommendation by the collegium to elevate Joseph as a judge of the apex court, while accepting a second recommendation to promote senior advocate Indu Malhotra.
The Centre had said that the elevation of Joseph “at this stage" did not “seem to be appropriate" as it would be unfair to other more senior, suitable and deserving chief justices and senior puisne judges of various high courts.
Another reason that was cited was that Kerala high court—which is Joseph’s parent high court— is already adequately represented in the apex court as compared to other high courts. Non-representation of Scheduled Castes and Tribes in the Supreme Court was given as another reason.
In April 2016, a bench headed by Joseph had set aside the Centre’s decision to impose President’s rule in Uttarakahnd while reviving the Congress government headed by Harish Rawat.