Another standoff is brewing between Supreme Court judges and the Govt over Justice KM Joseph’s seniority.
New Delhi: Just when everyone thought that the row over appointment of Justice KM Joseph was over following his appointment to the Supreme Court, a fresh controversy is brewing.
Several Supreme Court judges are fuming and upset with the Centre over Justice Joseph’s seniority being altered in his appointment notification. He has been unceremoniously pushed down the order in seniority. This will seriously affect his seniority and chances of becoming the Chief Justice of India.
It came as surprise to many when the government notification placed Justice Joseph below justices Indira Banerjee and Vineet Saran. “It is a blatant interference by the government. Justice Joseph’s name was sent first and reiterated by the collegium, and his name should have been first in the appointment notification. But his name is the third, making him junior to the other two judges,” one of the judges told NDTV.
On Monday, several Supreme Court judges are planning to meet Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra to lodge a complaint about the Centre’s “interference.”
The Centre cleared the appointments of Supreme Court judges on Saturday. But it placed Justice Joseph’s name third in the notification, making him lower in seniority to the other two judges. This could hamper his chances of being elevated to the post of the CJI as well as of heading a Supreme Court bench.
Justice Joseph’s elevation to the top court was in the news for quite some time. The collegium headed by the CJI had recommended Justice Joseph’s name for promotion to the Supreme Court on January 10. On April 30, the government had returned the recommendation for reconsideration on the grounds that he lacked seniority. The executive had also pointed out that several high courts remain unrepresented, and Justice Joseph’s elevation would be against the principle of regional representation. His parent high court is the Kerala high Court.
It is rumoured that Justice Joseph is being targeted as he had struck down the imposition of President’s Rule in Uttarakhand in 2016 after the dismissal of a Congress government led by Harish Rawat.