The Supreme Court Collegium at its meeting on Friday, May 11, agreed to reiterate its recommendation for appointment of Justice KM Joseph as a Supreme Court judge, along with names of some other High Court chief justices.
This resolution of the issue would in effect affect Justice Joseph’s seniority, likely precluding his chances to be a part of the Collegium in the future or becoming Chief Justice. Justice Jospeh, born in June, 1958, is 60 now. Supreme Court judges retire at the age of 65.
The SC Collegium, which consists of five senior-most judges – CJI Dipak Misra, Justice Chelameswar, Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice M B Lokur and Justice Kurian Joseph – had previously met on May 2 but deferred its decision on the matter.
In its meeting today, it “unanimously agreed” that that the recommendation for appointment of Justice KM Joseph as a Judge of the Supreme Court “should be reiterated”.
It added” “However, the said reiteration should also be accompanied by the recommendation of the names of Chief Justices of High Courts for elevation as Judges of the Supreme Court, for which detailed discussion is required.”
The other names will be decided on a meeting on May 16. Until then, Justice Joseph’s name will not be sent back to the Centre.
The apex court is functioning with 24 judges out of a total strength of 31; four judges are expected to retire this year, said a report in The Indian Express.
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.
On April 26, the government returned for reconsideration the collegium’s recommendation to elevate Justice KM Joseph but notified the appointment of Malhotra as a judge.
The Centre had the following objections said Justice Joseph stood at number 42 in the seniority of high court judges and there were 11 chief justices of different high courts who would senior to him.
The Centre 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 top court judge Justice Kurian Joseph and the chief justices of three high courts — Justice KM Joseph himself (Uttarakhand), Justice TB Radhakrishnan (Chhattisgarh) and Justice Antony Dominic (Kerala).
The Central government also flagged the absence of SC/ST judges in the top judiciary.