Indu Malhotra’s name cleared for appointment as Supreme Court Judge; No word on Justice KM Joseph’s elevation

Making Senior Advocate Indu Malhotra the first woman lawyer to be directly elevated to the Bench, Centre has cleared her name for appointment as the Supreme Court Judge. She is likely to take oath on 27.04.2018.

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 is still silent on Justice KM Joseph’s elevation.

In the last 70 years of independence, Indian Supreme Court has seen only 6 women judges, namely, Justice M Fathima Beevi, Justice Sujata V Manohar, Justice Ruma Pal, Justice Gyan Sudha Misra, Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai and Justice R. Banumathi. Currently, Justice Banumathi is the only woman judge in the Supreme Court. Indu Malhotra, who joined the bar in the year 1983, will be the 7th woman judge. She qualified as an Advocate-on-Record (AoR) in the Supreme Court in 1988 and was designated as a senior advocate in 2007, only the second woman to be designated a senior advocate by the Supreme Court, after Justice Leila Seth.

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.”

(With inputs from DNA and ANI)

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