The Centre’s Narendra Modi government is likely to be engaged in another round of what appears to be heading towards a serious face-off with the country’s top court. That’s because the government has refused to approve the elevation of the Uttarakhand High Court’s Chief Justice KM Joseph to the Supreme Court.
Justice Joseph had quashed the Modi government’s decision to dismiss the then government headed by Harish Rawat in Uttarakhand in 2016. The Supreme Court Collegium had recommended his name for the bigger high court for Andhra Pradesh and Telangana a month after he delivered the historic verdict quashing the President’s Rule in Uttarakhand. But the Modi government did not clear his transfer even though the high court in Hyderabad still does not have a full-time chief justice.
Also being recommended is the name of Indu Malhotra, as the first woman lawyer to be directly appointed to the top court.
Earlier last year, it was reported that Justice Chelameswar, who recently led the rebellion against the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra, had recorded a strong dissent note on the Centre’s reluctance to clear Justice KM Joseph’s promotion to the Supreme Court.
Justice Chelameswar had reportedly written, “Justice Joseph is an outstanding judge with impeccable integrity and the most suitable judge for elevation to the Supreme Court. By not elevating a highly competent judge like Justice Joseph, the collegium was setting an unhealthy precedent.”
It’s believed that Justice Chelameswar and three other judges, Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Madan.B.Lokur, and Justice Kurian Joseph, who recently held an extraordinary press conference last month, are extremely peeved and have even conveyed their displeasure to CJI Misra.
There are indications that the Modi government may return the proposal for Justice KM Joseph’s promotion back to the Supreme Court Collegium. However, should this happen, the Collegium is reportedly determined to send the proposal right back to the government.
As per the procedure, the government can return the file once but usually approves the recommendations if the Collegium insists on its proposal. However, the refusal of Modi government to clear Justice KM Joseph’s name for the Supreme Court appointment will give credence to the widely perceived notion that the government headed by Modi actively worked to have judges of its own choice in order to create a severely compromised judiciary in the country.