Justice Chelameswar seeks reiteration of Justice K.M. Joseph’s elevation to SC

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New Delhi, May 10 (IANS) With just six working days left before Justice J.Chelameswar bids adieu to Supreme Court, he has shot a letter to Chief Justice Dipak Misra seeking reiteration of apex court collegium’s January 10 unanimous recommendation for elevating the Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice K.M.Joseph to the top court.

Though Justice Chelameswar, who is a member of the collegium, is retiring on June 22 but the top court is left with six working days before it goes for six week summer break next weekend.

In a letter written on Wednesday, Justice Chelameswar has urged Chief Justice Misra that the reiteration of January 10 recommendation must be done at the earliest and file carrying reiteration be sent back to the government.

The reiteration of the recommendation for the elevation of Justice Joseph to the top court at the earliest would require the convening of the meeting of the collegium which had its last meeting on May 2.

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At this meeting, the collegium had deferred decision on the government’s request to reconsider its recommendation for the elevation of Justice Joseph to top court. The meeting was inconclusive but no specific date was given for the next meeting of the collegium which was speculated to take place this week.

Friday is the last working day of the week.

Besides reconsidering its recommendation on elevating Justice Joseph to top court, the collegium was also to consider names of Judges from Calcutta, Rajasthan, and Telangana and Andhra Pradesh High Courts for elevation as Judges of the Supreme Court.

Justice Kurian Joseph – also a member of collegium – had earlier said that the Central government should not have rejected the recommendation of the Supreme Court collegium on the appointment of a judge as this has never happened before.

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The top court collegium, recommending the elevation of Justice Joseph on January 10, had said: “The collegium considers that at present Justice K.M. Joseph, who hails from Kerala High Court and is currently functioning as Chief Justice of Uttarakhand High Court, is more deserving and suitable in all respects than other Chief Justices and senior puisne Judges of High Courts for being appointed as Judges of the Supreme Court of India.”

However, the Central government while returning his recommendation for reconsideration had said that Justice Joseph stood at number 42 in the seniority of High Court judges and there are 11 Chief Justices of different High Courts who are senior to him — a clear suggestion that his elevation to the Supreme Court would be at their expense.

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The Centre had also raised the principle of proportionality contending that Kerala High Court was a “comparatively small High Court” with a sanctioned strength of 42 judges and was a parent High Court for the top court judge Justice Kurian Joseph, the Chief Justices of three High Courts — Justice K.M. Joseph himself (Uttarakhand), Justice T.B. Radhakrishnan (Chhattisgarh) and Justice Antony Dominic (Kerala).

The Central government had also flagged the absence of SC/ST judges in the top judiciary.

There is a perception that the government was standing in the way of the elevation of Justice Joseph because of his judgment against imposition of President’s rule in Uttarakhand, but Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has denied this.

–IANS

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