Decision on KM Joseph deferred

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Sources said the collegium met to deliberate on several issues, including reconsidering the name of Justice Joseph for elevation to the apex court, after it was returned by the Central government. At the May 11 meeting of the collegium, comprising CJI Misra and Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, it was unanimously made a decision to reiterate the proposal to elevate Justice K M Joseph. While returning the name of Justice Joseph, the government cleared Justice Malhotra's appointment.

According to the sources, since Justice K.M. Joseph's name had already been "in principle" reiterated at the last meeting, not much of Wednesday's discussion revolved around him. Though the decision to reiterate the name was taken, it wasn't sent to the government as most members felt it would be incongruous to send a single name when there were seven SC vacancies.

They are: Indira Banerjee of the Madras High court who is originally from the Calcutta HC; Subhash Reddy of Gujarat HC who is originally from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh HC; and Karnataka HC chief justice Dinesh Maheshwari who is originally from Rajasthan HC. This was the collegium's third meeting since the Centre returned the file of Justice Joseph.

It had also said that the Kerala High Court being comparatively a smaller court, with a sanctioned strength of 42 judges, was a parent high court for Supreme Court judge Justice Kurian Joseph, and the Chief Justices of three high courts - Justice KM Joseph himself (Uttarakhand), Justice TB Radhakrishnan (Chhattisgarh) and Justice Antony Dominic (Kerala).

Chelameswar, whose last working day, after a seven-year stint in the apex court, falls on May 18, was the lone judge on the bench to uphold the validity of the NJAC, arguing that entirely eliminating the government from selection process was against the country's democratic principles. But it is likely that the collegium may first consider six chief justices, in addition to K.M. Joseph, for filling the current vacancies in the apex court.