SC collegium agrees to reiterate Justice KM Joseph's elevation to apex court

Collegium likely to repeat recommendation for Justice KM Joseph to SC…

The central government returned the recommendation for reconsideration of justice Joseph's elevation saying that the jurist stood at number 42 in seniority among high court judges and there were 11 chief justices of different high courts who were senior to him.

The Supreme Court collegium headed by the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on Friday chose to reiterate its earlier recommendation to elevate the Chief Justice of Uttarakhand High Court K.M. Joseph as a Judge of the apex court.

In his letter, sent Wednesday, Chelameswar referred to the collegium meeting held on 2 May, when it made a decision to defer reconsidering the elevation of Joseph, following letters dated 26 and 30 April received from the union law ministry.

The decision to convene the meeting was taken on Thursday evening by the CJI. The Centre said the recommendation wasn't in accordance with the top court's parameters and there was already adequate representation of Kerala in the higher judiciary from where Justice Joseph hails.

The 15-minute meeting, which has a monopoly over the appointment of judges to constitutional courts, was marred by Justices Chelameswar and Kurian Joseph making a strong pitch for reiteration of Justice K M Joseph's name and insisting that his name be sent alone to the government for quick elevation. "We have simply asked for reconsideration", he said, adding that the Centre's response is not linked to Justice Joseph being part of the Uttarakhand HC bench in 2016 which ruled against the government.

Even before Friday's decision, members of the Collegium had given indications of a possible unanimity on the name of returning the recommendation of Justice Joseph. It also argued that Justice Joseph's parent high court, the one in Kerala, was over-represented in the apex court.

More news: Alert test message sent out Wednesday afternoon

The reiteration of Justice Joseph's candidature can now be sent to the government earliest by May 16, provided the collegium can agree on all the fresh recommendations on that day, or later.

The collegium comprises the CJI, and Justices Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, MB Lokur and Kurien Joseph.

The Collegium at its meeting on January 10, had decided unanimously to recommend the names of Justice KM Joseph and (then senior advocate) Indu Malhotra to the Supreme Court.

Justice Joseph's elevation to the top court was, however, rejected by the government in April.

The meeting of the Collegium was likely to be held on May 9, however, Justice Chelameswar was on leave.

It is also learnt that Justice Chelameswar, who retires on June 22, has responded to all the points raised in the communication to the CJI by Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad expressing reservations on the elevation of Justice Joseph.

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