Once again, Supreme Court Collegium stalls on Justice KM Joseph's name

Supreme Court

At the May 11 meeting, the five-member Collegium agreed "in principle" to reiterate its January 10 recommendation to the government to elevate Justice Joseph.

However, the general perception is that Justice Joseph had earned the displeasure of the Central government after a bench headed by him had ruled against the imposition of President's rule in Uttarakhand.

Justice Joseph is the Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court. It would now wait for the other list to come up and is expected to recommend Justice Joseph's name too. As a result, the collegium deferred its decision, sources added.

The meeting mainly centred around names from the high courts of Calcutta, Telangana, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and the Northeast for elevation to the Supreme Court.

When the collegium sends the file back, the government will have to accept the recommendation. Members also deliberated on whether Justice Joseph would lose his seniority if his name was clubbed with the others.

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The collegium, which had met last on May 2, parted on an inconclusive note. On Wednesday, there was a detailed discussion in the collegium but sources said no unanimity was reached on names that could be recommended for appointment as SC judges.

The Supreme Court collegium on Wednesday once again deferred its decision to reiterate its recommendation for the elevation of Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice K.M. Joseph to the top court, as it could not decide on names of other judges for elevation to the apex court.

The present collegium includes Justices J. Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph. Five judges of the court are scheduled to retire in 2018 - Justice Chelameswar as early as June 22.

On April 26, Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had announced that the government had cleared the elevation of advocate Ms Indu Malhotra and put on hold Justice Joseph's elevation. Justice Malhotra is already functioning as a Supreme Court judge.

The collegium during its last meeting on May 11 had taken an in-principle decision to reiterate its recommendation for the elevation of Justice Joseph to the top court. But it is likely that the collegium may first consider six chief justices, in addition to K.M. Joseph, for filling the current vacancies in the apex court.

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