The Supreme Court collegium headed by the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on Friday made a decision to reiterate its earlier recommendation to elevate the Chief Justice of Uttarakhand High Court K.M. Joseph as a Judge of the apex court.
The collegium said that it would also discuss the names of other High Court chief justices at its next meeting on May 16.
But law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad denies it saying Justice J S Khehar of the SC who had upheld Joseph's decision and even quashed the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, envisaged to replace the collegium system of appointment of judges, went on to become the chief justice later and Centre had no objection. According to a report in Times of India, the collegium will be sending Joseph's name along with a few other names for SC judge appointments.
The resolution uploaded on the Supreme Court website says, the collegium met to consider reiteration of the recommendation dated 10th January, 2018 for elevation of Mr. Justice K.M. Joseph, Chief Justice, Uttarakhand High Court [Parent HC: "Kerala] as Judge of the Supreme Court; to consider names of High Court Judges for elevation as Judges of the Supreme Court".
More than two weeks have passed since the Modi government, on 26 April, returned the name of Joseph for "reconsideration", while clearing the appointment of the second recommendation, Indu Malhotra.
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Apart from Joseph, the other names that the collegium considered were Indira Banerjee, now chief justice of the Madras HC, who is originally from the Calcutta HC; Gujarat HC chief justice R. Subhash Reddy, who is originally from the Telangana and Andhra Pradesh HC; and Karnataka HC chief justice Dinesh Maheshwari, who is originally from the Rajasthan HC.
The meeting of the collegium was called by CJI Dipak Misra a day after Justice Chelameswar wrote to him seeking an early meeting of the collegium. It also questioned his seniority for elevation as a judge of the Supreme Court. During his tenure as chief judge, the court undertook a number of measures to improve accessibility to the court and the effectiveness of court procedures.
"Had it been the case, why would had we approved Justice JS Khehar's name for elevation as CJI past year", he said, recalling that Justice Khehar was part of the bench which rejected the government's controversial National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Bill.
The Congress-led opposition was quick to allege that the Centre's decision to return the recommendation was triggered by justice Joseph's judgement against the imposition of President's Rule in Uttarakhand.