Reconsideration of Justice Joseph's elevation not revenge says Ravi Shankar Prasad

The Supreme Court collegium is meeting to decide on the appointment of Uttarakhand Chief Justice KM Joseph as a judge to the top court

The Supreme Court Collegium headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra has deferred its decision on elevation of Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice, Justice KM Joseph to Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court Collegium headed by CJI Dipak Misra deferred its decision on the elevation of Justice KM Joseph, now working as the Chief Justice of Uttarakhand High Court.

At least three names, along with that of Justice Joseph, are likely to be cleared at the next collegium meeting, the sources said.

At a post cabinet briefing, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government decision to return the file of Justice Joseph had "nothing to do with his order quashing the President's Rule in Uttarakhand".

An official said since other names were also on the agenda of the meeting, modalities were to be worked out as to whether Justice Josephs name will be sent to the government along with the others.

After sitting over the collegium's recommendations for over three months, the Central government on April 26 cleared the name of senior lawyer Indu Malhotra (now judge) but returned the recommendation of Justice Joseph for reconsideration.

Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Wednesday reiterated that the government isn't turning down the Uttarakhand Chief Justice K M Joseph elevation to the Supreme Court because of his 2016 Uttarakhand order. Prasad noted that a Bharatiya Janata Party government was elected with a three-fourths majority a year ago.

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However, the larger question that arises is whether the collegium should have clubbed the decision of reiterating Joseph's elevation with recommending new names from the mentioned High Courts for appointment to the Supreme Court.

Taking the example of Justice Khehar, who had set aside the National Judicial Commission initiative, Prasad said that he too became Chief Justice of India during BJP-led NDA government.

Indu was sworn in as the judge of the Supreme Court on April 27.

The letter pointed out that justice Joseph is 42nd in seniority among the high court judges and many HCs such as Gujarat, Calcutta and Jammu and Kashmir are not represented in the apex court.

"What kind of prayer is this", the top court bench, also comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, said, adding that the Centre is "well within its right to send back the recommendation for reconsideration".

This is because clubbing these two in a single resolution could given the Centre the option of perpetually sitting on Joseph's appointment while asking the President to issue warrants to others who are recommended by the collegium.

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