New Delhi: The Supreme Court collegium, or a group of five most-senior judges, is firm on its recommendation to elevate Justice KM Joseph to the top court and has decided to formulate a detailed response to the government that had rejected its choice, top sources told NDTV after the collegium's 50 minute meeting.
- Supreme Court collegium met today to discuss new appointments
- Centre had rejected elevation of Uttarakhand Chief Justice
- Top judges met today for 45-50 minutes but deferred a decision
At its meeting today, the collegium had also considered names of judges from three other high courts in view of what the court called, was the "concept of fair representation". No formal announcement was, however, made today.
This, sources told NDTV, could happen later this week or early next week when the top judges meet again to finalise its counter.
A decision on the appointments had been deferred, an announcement by the Supreme Court said after the meeting of the collegium comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph
The collegium's decision to "consider the names of judges from Calcutta, Rajasthan and Telangana and Andhra Pradesh High Courts" for elevation to the Supreme Court is seen as an effort to address the government's concern and fill more vacancies in the top court.
One of the grounds cited by the government to reject Uttarakhand Chief Justice KM Joseph's elevation was that this would increase the number of judges from the Kerala High Court to two though there were many high courts which did not have any representation in the top court's bench.
The other was that Justice Joseph was not among the senior high court chief justices.
The government was seen to have set up a face-off with the judiciary after it rejected the collegium's choice of Justice KM Joseph for elevation to the Supreme Court last month. The move has been seen as an attack on judicial independence and was linked to Justice Joseph cancelling President's rule in Uttarakhand in 2016, which helped the Congress retain power.
But just hours before the top judges were to meet this evening, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad insisted there was no link between the verdict and its reluctance to elevate the Uttarakhand Chief Justice.
Asked about the barrage of criticism from retired judges and the opposition, Mr Prasad underlined that there was nothing wrong in the government exercising a right to seek reconsideration of a name under a power granted to the centre by the Supreme Court.
Former Chief Justice RM Lodha, one of the many retired judges who has worried about attacks on judicial independence, has said that he did not expect the collegium to change its mind about Justice Joseph's elevation.
"Obviously all the factors which were taken into consideration while sending his (Justice Joseph's) name I think remain, they exist. They will be examined in light of the government's observations. But none of these grounds (cited by the government) really matter much," the former Chief Justice told reporters yesterday.