NEW DELHI: The SC collegium’s decision to recommend Uttarakhand HC chief Justice K M Joseph for elevation to the apex court has sparked a fresh showdown with the Centre which has raised strong objections to the selection panel ignoring the seniority of several other judges and CJs of HCs.
The government has argued that Justice Joseph stands 45th in the order of seniority among HC judges and 12th when it comes to CJs of HCs and his elevation overlooks the claims of senior chief justices such as Justice Indira Banerjee, Justice Vineet Saran, Justice Ajit Singh, Justice Rajinder Menon, Justice Pradeep Nandrajog, Justice D B Bhosale and Justice S J Vazifdar.
Senior government sources indicated that the collegium could be asked to rethink its recommendation and also pointed out that there was a skew in the SC with over-representation of Kerala HC. The Kerala HC has a strength of 47 judges and has one representation in the SC in Justice Kurian Joseph. Two judges of the HC – Justices T B Radhakrishnan and Anthony Dominic who are now CJs – are due to be elevated soon.
It is also felt the collegium’s recommendation to appoint senior advocate Indu Malhotra along with Justice K M Joseph is not necessarily twinned. The Centre can approve one and not the other.
Sources in the government are also laying great store by Justice J Chelameswar who missed out on being the Chief Justice of India because the collegium did not adhere to the principle of seniority and this delayed his elevation to the SC. As part of the SC’s constitution bench which struck down the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), he disagreed with his colleagues who upheld the status quo where the collegium has the sole say in appointment of judges to the SC and HCs.
“There is no accountability in this regard. The records are absolutely beyond the reach of any person including the judges of this court who are not lucky enough to become the Chief Justice of India. Such a state of affairs does not either enhance the credibility of the institution or is good for the people of this country,” sources in the government quoted from Justice Chelameswar’s dissenting verdict.
Justice Chelameswar, the second seniormost judge after the CJI, has raised a banner of revolt along with three other seniormost judges over CJI Dipak Misra not following the seniority principle in allocating important cases to benches.
Source : timesofindia