June 22, 2018

With retirement of Justice Chelameswar, Uncertainty over Justice Joseph’s elevation to SC continues


With the retirement of Justice Jasti Chelameswar, the Supreme Court, which had agreed in principle to reiterate Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice K.M. Joseph’s name to the Centre for elevation as Supreme Court Judge, might only get delayed as the Apex Court Collegium will be undergoing change.

On May 11, the Supreme Court Collegium, comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, had agreed ideally to reiterate its recommendation for elevating Justice Joseph as a Judge of the Top Court. However, it could not come to consensus on a date to d the same and pass the name to the Centre.

On May 16, when the next collegium meeting was held, it deferred the decision saying “... There should be further deliberation and broad-based consideration of the names of the chief justices as well as judges of the high courts which are at present not represented in the Supreme Court.”

The collegium had thrice in a row failed to take a final call on the controversial proposal to elevate Justice Joseph to the top court despite unanimously agreeing “in principle” to reiterate his name which was returned by the government for reconsideration.

With the superannuation of Justice Chelameswar due on June 22, Justice A.K. Sikri, who is number six in seniority at the moment, will become part of the five-member collegium, necessitating the need of afresh reconsideration and decision to reiterate Justice Joseph's name back to the Centre.

Other names that were considered for elevation to the top court on May 16 included Madras High Court Chief Justice Indira Banerjee (parent HC Calcutta), Gujarat High Court Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy (parent HC Telangana and Andhra Pradesh) and Karnataka High Court Chief Justice Dinesh Maheshwari (parent HC Rajasthan). Names of some other chief justices were also under consideration “in view of the concept of fair representation”, sources said.

After Justice Chelameswar, CJI Misra will be retiring on October 2, 2018 followed by Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Lokur who will retire in November and December 2018 respectively.

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