The Supreme Court Collegium has yet again deferred its decision to reiterate recommendation of Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice KM Joseph's name to the Centre despite already deciding to do so in its previous meeting. The Centre had said Justice Joseph's "comparatively small" parent High Court of Kerala was already "adequately represented" in the apex court and among High Court Chief Justices.
"However, the said reiteration should also be accompanied by the recommendation of the names of Chief Justices of High Courts for elevation as Judges of the Supreme Court, for which detailed discussion is required", the resolution of May 11 had said.
At its last meeting on May 11, the Collegium had agreed in principle to reiterate its recommendation for elevating Justice Joseph as a judge of the apex court, nearly three weeks after it was returned by the Centre, but could not decide on a date.
The Collegium is to meet again on May 16 to discuss the other judges.
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It had then adopted a resolution which stated that there was a need for further discussion on the issue of sending the names of other judges to the Centre and had made a decision to meet again on Tuesday. Members also deliberated on whether Justice Joseph would lose his seniority if his name was clubbed with the others.
At the May 11 meeting, the five-member Collegium agreed "in principle" to reiterate its January 10 recommendation to the government to elevate Justice Joseph. The apex court is now functioning with just 25 judges, six below its sanctioned strength.
This is the third time that the collegium has deferred its decision on Justice Joseph's elevation since the Centre rejected its recommendation last month noting that it would "not be fair and justified to other more senior, suitable and deserving Chief justices and senior Puisne Judges of various High Courts". The material considered includes the report of a two-Judge committee constituted to assess the judgments passed by Justice Jhala and the other recommended judges.
The matter of the elevation of the Chief Justice of Uttarakhand High Court was stalled last month, as Centre had refuted to clear his name, while Indu Malhotra, who was recommended in the same meeting, sworn in last month. Five judges of the court are scheduled to retire in 2018, Justice Chelameswar as early as June 22.