Govt tells SC collegium why it rejected Joseph

Justifying its stand of returning the recommendation, the Centre sent a detailed note to Chief Justice Dipak Misra, giving reasons to the Supreme Court collegium for its decision, including that seniority may not be an important consideration to ensure regional representation.

Former additional solicitor general and senior Supreme Court advocate Raju Ramachandran said the government should have consulted the CJI and the collegium that in January recommended the names of Justice Joseph and Malhotra.

CJI Dipak Misra said that it was not wrong for the Union law ministry to send back for reconsideration one name among the two sent to it by the Collegium. She urged the bench to stay the presidential warrant appointing Malhotra on the grounds that the government can not pick from a file containing two names.

Chidambaram also asked whether the Modi government was above the law as the recommendation of the Supreme Court Collegium was binding on the appointment of judges. The Centre's refusal to give its consent to the collegium's recommendation was widely believed to be in reaction to Justice Joseph's 2016 decision to quash the Modi government's President's Rule in Uttarakhand, which was then being headed by Harish Rawat of the Congress.

As reported in The Indian Express, Justice J Chelameswar had written on March 21 to all judges of the Supreme Court, asking CJI Misra to call a full court on the judicial side to discuss the issue of government interference in the appointment of judges to the high courts. For one, the Kerala High Court, with a sanctioned strength of 47 judges is by no means a "comparatively small High Court".

"Kerala has received adequate representation in SC (Justice Kurian Joseph already there) and as Chief Justicess of HCs". The Narendra Modi government has indicated that it has won the present round of battle for supremacy between itself and the collegium.

"We knew there was a possibility that the government could use some excuse not to process the name (of Joseph)".

The ministry's letter to the CJI made some important observations regarding the rejection of the name of Justice Joseph. She was appointed as a Senior Advocate in 2007.

Other women judges were elevated to the apex court from high courts.

Supreme Court is one of best performing institutions of India. If it does that and the collegium recommends his name a second time, the government will have to accept him under the existing procedure. "The President of India must immediately intervene to ensure that the laid out procedure is followed and the appointment of Justice Joseph is cleared", the party's Politburo said in a statement.

PTI reports: The Congress today alleged an RSS hand in a petition in the Supreme Court pertaining to judge BH Loya's death, and said it was "politically motivated".

Quoting two Supreme Court judgements, the letter also said that senior HC judges should entertain hopes of elevation to the SC and the CJI and the collegium should bear this in mind.

  • Leroy Wright