New Delhi: The Centre has finally approved the recommendation made by the Supreme Court collegium to elevate Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice KM Joseph to the Supreme Court. Orissa High Court Chief Justice Vineet Saran and Madras High Court Chief Justice Indira Banerjee’s elevation has also been okayed. The Supreme Court Collegium comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Ranjan Gogoi, J Chelameswar, Kurian Joseph, and Madan B Lokur had recommended Justice KM Joseph’s name on January 10.
Senior counsel and now a Supreme Court judge Indu Malhotra’s name was also recommended at that time. On April 25, the Centre okayed Malhotra’s elevation but held back Justice Joseph’s name. The SC is currently functioning with 22 judges and its sanctioned strength is 31. The Supreme Court Collegium had on July 20 reiterated its recommendation to elevate Justice Joseph. While doing so, the collegium had noted that two communications sent by Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad while returning the recommendation had nothing adverse with regard to the suitability of Justice Joseph.
It was believed that the Centre was not approving Justice Joseph’s elevation owing to his judgement in April 2016 that quashed President’s Rule in Uttarakhand. However, the Law Minister had dismissed the claim. Prasad had on April 30 wrote a letter to CJI Dipak Misra, asking the Collegium to reconsider Justice Joseph’s name. He had argued that the Kerala High Court – Justice Joseph’s parent High Court – had adequate representation in the SC.
“The proposed appointment of KM Joseph as a judge of the Supreme Court at this stage does not appear to be appropriate,” the Law Minister had said in the letter, adding: “It would also not be fair and justified to other more senior, suitable and deserving chief justices and senior judges of various high courts.”