New Delhi, Aug 6: Ahead of the swearing in ceremony at the Supreme Court, several judges would today meet with Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra to discuss the seniority row regarding Justice K M Joseph.
What has upset a section of the judges in the SC is that Justice Joseph's name figures last in the seniority despite his name being recommended before the two other judges. His name features after Justices Indira Banerjee and Vineet Saran. The swearing in of the three judges would take place on Tuesday at 10.30 am.
The issue relating to seniority does matter in the Supreme Court as it rob a judge of a chance of becoming CJI. When it comes to deciding seniority, the time of swearing in is also taken into consideration.
The Justice Chelameswar saga:
In this context, let us examine the Justice J Chelameswar case. He was one of the four judges who addressed that controversial presser, in which their unhappiness with the functioning of the SC was made known.
When it came to seniority, Justice Chelameswar has not been exactly lucky. Although he retired as the senior most judge of the SC, he missed his chance of becoming CJI. He was appointed as judge of the High Court on June 23 1997. This appointment was in fact made after Justice Dipak Misra and Justice J S Khehar were appointed judges of the HC.
While Justice Misra was appointed as HC judge on January 17 1996 in the case of Justice Khehar it was February 8 1999. Justice Chelameswar went on to become the Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court on May 3 2007. Justices Misra and Khehar became CJs on December 23 2009 and November 29 2009 respectively.
If one looks at the above mentioned dates, then Justice Chelameswar was senior compared to the other two judges. However Justice Khehar was appointed as SC judge on September 13 2011, Justice Chelameswar and Justice Misra were appointed SC judges a month later. However Justice Misra took oath as SC judge before Justice Chelameswar did. This meant that Justice Misra became senior to Justice Chelameswar in the Supreme Court.
Had the appointment of Justice Chelameswar taken place as per the HC seniority, then he would have taken oath as the Chief Justice of India immediately after Justice T S Thakur who retired on January 4 2017. After Justice Thakur retired, Justice Khehar took over as the CJI. Justice Khehar was succeeded by Justice Misra on August 28 2017.
Has Justice Joseph missed the bus:
Even, if Justice Joseph's name had figured before Justices Indira Banerjee and Vineet Saran, he still would have had a chance of becoming CJI. However had been placed in the first position, he would have had a chance of head a Bench earlier. Being at number 3 would mean that Justice Joseph would head a Bench at a much later stage.
However the judges who have objected to this in the SC feel that the issue is not about heading a Bench or becoming CJI. The sanctity is at stake and they feel that the CJI ought to have raised this issue. After much tussle over the appointment of Justice Joseph, the Centre finally cleared his name.
However the judges feel that by meddling with the seniority, the Centre has had the last word.
Sources tell OneIndia that a demand would be made to the CJI to take a corrective measure before the oath-taking ceremony. Some members of the Supreme Court Bar Association said they will also make a representation on the issue.