Reports suggest that Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has written to a letter to CJI Dipak Misra, asking the collegium to reconsider Uttarakhand High Court’s Chief Justice KM Joseph’s name for elevation to the Supreme Court. The Law ministry says:
“it would not be appropriate, at this stage, to elevate Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice KM Joseph to the Supreme Court.”
The letter states that Justice KM Joseph is placed at number 42 in the All India High Court Judges’ Seniority list and there are presently 11 Chief Justices of various High Courts who are senior to him.
On 10.01.2018, the Supreme Court collegium, comprising of the five senior-most judges, had recommended the names of Uttarakhand Chief Justice KM Joseph and Indu Malhotra for elevation to the Supreme Court. While the Centre has cleared Indu Malhotra’s name, it has rejected the collegium’s recommendation regarding Justice KM Joseph.
While the appointment of Indu Malhotra has been applauded, many Senior members of the Bar have urged CJI Dipak Misra to block her appointment till Justice KM Joseph’s name is cleared. Senior Advocate Indira Jaising took to twitter to show her dismay over non-clearance of Justice Jospeh’s name. She tweeted:
“I appeal to the Chief Justice of India not to swear in Indu Malhotra until Justice Joseph is cleared for appointment , independence of the Judiciary must be saved at all cost.”
In another tweet, she said that if Indu Malhotra is sweared in as the Supreme Court judge, it will be illegal:
“As of now there is no collegium decision to appoint Indu Malhotra alone , hence a judge is about to be sworn in illegally , another collegium decision needed to swear her in alone to legalise her appointment , will the Chief Justice stand for independence of the judiciary please.”
Advocate Vikas Singh, President of the Supreme Court Bar Association, welcomed Indu Malhotra’s appointment, calling her a fine lawyer & a promising judge. However, on Centre’s silence on Justice KM Joseph, he said:
“I have huge reservation at the attitude of the government, there is no way by which they should not have cleared Justice KM Joseph’s name. By making one appointment and not making another, the government has interfered in functioning of the judiciary. This is a very serious matter and should be taken up with the government very strongly.”
As per the latest reports, Supreme Court has refused to give an urgent hearing to a mentioning by a group of Supreme Court Bar Association lawyers, with 100 signatures, seeking a stay on Senior Advocate Indu Malhotra’s appointment as Supreme Court judge in light of Centre’s decision to reject Justice KM Joseph’s elevation. The SCBA resolution states:
“While we stand for nomination of Ms. Indu Malhotra, Senior Advocate and one of our distinguished members, we express our deep anguish for non-inclusion of Justice KM Joseph and selective processing of files contrary to the recommendation of the Supreme Court collegium. We strongly condemn the selective approach of the Executive and call upon the Hon’ble Supreme Court to take appropriate steps to restore independence of the judiciary. “