The Centre’s Narendra Modi government on Friday finally cleared the name of Chief Justice of the Uttarkhand High Court, Justice KM Joseph after sitting sitting on the Collegium’s recommendation for months.
According to reports, the Centre has finally decided to elevate Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice KM Joseph to the Supreme Court, along with the elevation of Madras High Court Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Orissa High Court Chief Justice Vineet Saran.
In April this year, the Centre had cleared the Collegium’s recommendation for Indu Malhotra, but withheld the file related to Justice KM Joseph’s elevation. Many had argued that the Modi government’s aversion to Justice Joseph was because of his landmark judgement in April 2016 setting aside the former’s President’s Rule order in Uttarakhand, then governed by Harish Rawat of Congress.
The Centre’s refusal to clear Justice KM Joseph’s name had angered the senior judges of the Supreme Court. These judges also included those who formed the Supreme Court Collegium.
Earlier this year, Justice Kurian Joseph of the Supreme Court had written to CJI Misra stating that the ‘very life and existence’ of the Supreme Court was under threat and “history will not pardon us,” if the court did not respond to the government’s unprecedented act of sitting on the Collegium’s recommendation.
He had said, “it is the first time in the history of this court where nothing is known as to what has happened to a recommendation after three months.”
Justice Joseph’s letter had followed another extraordinary letter written by Justice Chelameswar to CJI Misra last month demanding a full court on the intervention by the central government in the appointment of judges to high courts. The second senior most judge had decided to write to CJI Misra after it emerged that Karnataka High Court Chief Justice Dinesh Maheshwari had initiated a probe against a judge recommended twice by the Supreme Court Collegium for elevation to the High Court.
In April this year, as many as 100 top Supreme Court lawyers had called for an extraordinary meeting to protest against the Narendra Modi government’s decision to return the file on Justice KM Joseph to the Collegium.