Collegium Finally Reiterates KM Joseph’s Name for Elevation to SC

Centre sent Justice KM Joseph’s name back for reconsideration in April, Collegium still wants his elevation to SC. 

3 min read

The Supreme Court Collegium has finally reiterated its recommendation to elevate Justice KM Joseph to the apex court, nearly three months after the Centre had sent his file back for reconsideration. On 10 January 2018, the Collegium had recommended that Justice KM Joseph (currently Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court) and advocate Indu Malhotra be appointed as judges of the Supreme Court.

While Malhotra was subsequently appointed as a judge, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had written back two letters to the Collegium on 26 and 30 April, in which he had objected to Justice Joseph’s name on several grounds, including lack of representation from other parts of the country.

The Collegium, composed of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court, have rejected the Centre’s arguments in a resolution dated 16 July 2018, noting that “nothing adverse regarding suitability of Mr. Justice KM Joseph has been pointed out in the aforesaid letters”.


Additional Recommendations for SC and High Courts

In separate resolutions, the Collegium also recommended additional names for elevation to the Supreme Court and for appointment as the Chief Justices of various high courts.

New Supreme Court Judges

  1. Justice Indira Banerjee – currently Chief Justice of the Madras High Court
  2. Justice Vineet Saran – currently Chief Justice of the Odisha High Court

Chief Justices of High Courts

  1. Justice Rajendra Menon (currently CJ of Patna HC) – recommended for appointment as Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court
  2. Justice MR Shah (currently Gujarat HC judge) – recommended for appointment as Chief Justice of Patna High Court
  3. Justice Aniruddha Bose (currently Calcutta HC judge) – recommended for appointment as Chief Justice of Jharkhand High Court
  4. Justice Gita Mittal (currently Acting CJ of Delhi HC) – recommended for appointment as Chief Justice of Jammu & Kashmir High Court
  5. Justice Hrishikesh Roy (currently Acting CJ of Kerala HC) – recommended for appointment as Chief Justice of Kerala High Court
  6. Justice VK Tahilramani (currently Bombay HC judge) – recommended for appointment as Chief Justice of Madras High Court, upon elevation of Justice Banerjee

The Collegium had initially recommended Justice Bose (No. 3 above) for the position of Delhi HC Chief Justice – a post that has been vacant for almost a year. The Centre sent the name back for reconsideration citing his lack of experience in heading a court and the complexity of handling the Delhi HC, as a result of which the Collegium decided to recommend him for a different court.

Can the Centre Reject Justice Joseph’s Name Again?

The Centre has already sent Justice Joseph’s name back to the Collegium for reconsideration once, in accordance with the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) for appointment of Supreme Court judges. According to the MoP, the Centre can do this only once – if the Collegium reiterates the recommendation, the government has to accept it.

However, there is no time limit specified for the Centre to communicate its acceptance to the Collegium. This means that the government can potentially sit on the file as long as it wants to delay the appointment of Justice Joseph. It has long been speculated that the BJP government has resisted Justice Joseph’s appointment all this time since he had passed an adverse ruling against them in the Uttarakhand President’s Rule case.

Since the Collegium has now recommended additional names for elevation to the apex court, the Centre could well appoint the two additional judges, but fail to respond on Justice Joseph’s name. If this happens, the Collegium – currently made up of CJI Misra and Justices Gogoi, Lokur, Kurian Joseph and AK Sikri – can still send reminders to the Centre to follow up on his appointment.

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