SC judges meet CJI over Justice Joseph appointment row

New Delhi: A group of top court judges including those from the collegium on Monday met Chief Justice Dipak Misra to express their concern over the Centre altering seniority of Justice K.M. Joseph by placing him at third position, after Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Vineet Saran, in the order of appointment as top court judge.

Justice Joseph, along with Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Vineet Saran, will be administered oath on Tuesday by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Misra.

Upset over the Centre altering the seniority of Justice Joseph by placing him at number three, the aggrieved judges urged the CJI to convey their concern to the government, which they alleged was an interference by the government in judicial appointments.

It was learnt that Chief Justice Misra has spoken to the Attorney General to convey the concern expressed by the judges upset over the development.

While some judges are expressing concern over government’s interference with the appointment process, Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Vikas Singh said that the fault lies with the collegium itself.

Blaming the collegium for the mess, Vikas Singh said: “When they (collegium) made the recommendation, they should have said that it is a case of reiteration and it should be at the serial number one as his name was recommended earlier.”

In the case of Justice Joseph, the recommendation for his elevation as top court judge was made by the collegium on January 10 this year which was reiterated on July 17.

Prior to reiteration of Justice Joseph’s name on July 17, the collegium had earlier decided in principle to reiterate his recommendation after the Centre had returned it for reconsideration, saying that he stood 11th in the seniority of Chief Justices of the High Court.

The collegium, while recommending Justice Joseph’s name for elevation to top court in January this year, had described him as one of the ablest and suitable judges for consideration for elevation to the top court.

“The collegium considers that at present Mr. Justice K.M. Joseph, who hails from Kerala High Court and is currently functioning as Chief Justice of Uttarakhand High Court, is more deserving and suitable in all respects than other Chief Justices and senior puisne Judges of High Courts for being appointed as Judges of the Supreme Court of India,” the top court collegium had said in its January 10 resolution.

Ever since the collegium recommended the name of Justice Joseph for elevation to top court in January this, the government and the judiciary are at loggerheads. Justice Joseph earned the displeasure of the government after he set aside the imposition of President’s rule in Uttarakhand.

Earlier, the government had sat over collegium recommendation transferring Justice Joseph as the Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court.