Col­legium ‘Dis­senter’ Asks Why Jus­tice Joseph Not in El­e­va­tion List

In a let­ter to SC col­legium, Che­lameswar says Ut­tarak­hand Chief Jus­tice was an ‘out­stand­ing’ judge who de­served to be el­e­vated

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics - Sa­man­waya.Rau­tray @times­group.com

New Delhi: Se­nior Supreme Court judge Jasti Che­lameswar, who had de­clared that he would boy­cott col­legium pro­ceed­ings over its al­leged lack of trans­parency, has raised a fresh i s s u e b y a s k i n g why Ut­tarak­hand High Court Chief Jus­tice KM Joseph is not in the list of judges rec­om­mended for el­e­va­tion to the Supreme Court. Jus­tice Che­lameswar is be­lieved to have writ­ten a strong dis­sent note to the SC col­legium led by Chief Jus­tice of In­dia JS Khe­har for ex­clud­ing Jus­tice Joseph from the fi­nal list. Che­lameswar in his let­ter said that the Ut­tarak­hand Chief Jus­tice was an out­stand­ing judge who de­served to be el­e­vated to the top court. By not el­e­vat­ing such a judge of in­tegrity and com­pe­tence, the col­legium, which com­prises the five se­nior-most judges off the top court, would be set­ting an un­healthy prece­dent, the let­ter said. Col­legium mem­bers can ig­nore dis- sent of a sole judge if the other four col­legium mem­bers agree to a de­ci­sion. No rec­om­men­da­tion goes through if more than one judge dis­sents and hence Jus­tice Che­lameswar’s dis­sent can be over- ruled, tech­ni­cally, by the other four mem­bers of the col­legium that com­prise the CJI, his likely suc­ces­sor Di­pak Misra and Jus­tices Ranjan Go­goi and Madan B Lokur. Jus­tice Joseph was trans­ferred from the Ut­tarak­hand high court days after he struck down the Cen­tre ’s d e c i s i o n to im­pose Pres­i­dent’s r ule in the state. Ac­cord­ing to a ju­di­ciary in­sider, the judge was trans­ferred after he made wanted to be at a high court closer to his home state, Ker­ala, fol­low­ing ill-health re­lated to al­ti­tude. But the trans­fer or­der never came through. Ac­cord­ing to the ju­di­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tive, the judge’s health later re­cov­ered after a surgery. His name later came up for el­e­va­tion to the Supreme Court un­der the col­legium presided over by for­mer CJI TS Thakur. How­ever, it did not fig­ure in the fi­nal list sent to the top court col­legium un­der CJI Khe­har to the law min­istry for for­mal or­der of ap­point­ment. The law min­istry en­sures that the state in­tel­li­gence runs a check on a can­di­date’s an­tecedents be­fore for­ward- ing the names to the Pres­i­dent for ap­point­ment. This takes about a week once the file is sent by the Supreme Court. Jus­tice Che­lameswar had op­posed what he termed was a ‘non-trans­par­ent’ man­ner in screen­ing can­di­dates for ap­point­ment as su­pe­rior court judges. He and in­sisted that he would only at­tend col­legium meet­ings when min­utes would be doc­u­mented for pos­ter­ity, where all rea­sons for/against any el­e­va­tion, trans­fer or ap­point­ment of judges are recorded.

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