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Revenge on judiciary?

Revenge on judiciary?
Highlights

An unsavoury war has erupted over the elevation of Uttarakhand Chief Justice K M Joseph to the Apex Court with the Centre clearing only the name of senior advocate Indu Malhotra for appointment as Supreme Court Judge over Justice Joseph. 

An unsavoury war has erupted over the elevation of Uttarakhand Chief Justice K M Joseph to the Apex Court with the Centre clearing only the name of senior advocate Indu Malhotra for appointment as Supreme Court Judge over Justice Joseph.

While the government has every right to send back the file (Justice Joseph's) for reconsideration, it will be up to the Collegium to consider it appropriately. One should look at the reasons that are cited by the Centre in rejecting the file with the recommendation rather than jump to conclusions.

The Union Law Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, in his note to Chief Justice Dipak Misra, asked the Supreme Court Collegium to reconsider the elevation of Chief Justice of Uttarakhand K M Joseph to the Supreme Court arguing that Justice Joseph is at "serial number 42' in the all-India seniority list and that eleven Chief Justices across different High Courts were senior to him and that his parent Kerala High Court was "adequately represented' in the country's top court.

Politics apart, this argument of lack of seniority is no reason to freeze the appointment of Justice K M Joseph who wrote the judgment quashing President's Rule in the State. If seniority alone is the criteria, then the sitting Supreme Court judges such as Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Mohan M Shantanagoundar, S Abdul Nazeer, Naveen Sinha and Deepak Gupta would not have been chosen over their seniors.

These were all merit based appointments. That's all. Justice Gogoi, who is Judge number three in the Apex Court and the next CJI as per the seniority norm had been appointed before several of his SC colleagues. Justice Deepak Gupta and Naveen Sinha have been appointed over 30 high Court judges senior to them at the time of appointments. So, stalling Justice K M Joseph's name now does not sound logical.

Again the argument that Kerala, with a sanctioned strength of 47 judges is comparatively small and if Justice Joseph is appointed, then it would lead to over representation from the State (Justice Kurian Joseph is a sitting Judge of the Supreme Court already) looks unsound. In the past Kerala had three Judges in the Apex Court - Justices K G Balakrishnan, Cyriac Joseph and K S Radhakrishnan - all at the same time when the High Court had just 40 judges. Justices K S Paripoornan and K T Thomas were also Supreme Court Judges at the same time when the Kerala High Court strength was just 21.

A closer perusal of the list of judges in both High Courts and Supreme Court of the country also tells us that Bombay High Court has a greater representation. Justices Bobde, Khanwilkar and Chandrachud of the Apex Court are all from the same High Court serving now the Apex Court. Three more from Bombay are heading different High Courts.

The BJP need not do a Congress and treat the Judges as ' my judge vs your judge'. It is not Justice Joseph's credibility and integrity at stake now, it is that of the Centre! Justice Joseph had only corrected a wrong in quashing President's Rule in Uttarakhand in the past.

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