'Reconsideration of Justice Joseph’s elevation not revenge', says Ravi Shankar Prasad
Union Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad has rejected the narrative that the government had turned down the elevation of Justice K M Joseph to the Supreme Court due to his judgment on president's rule in Uttarakhand.
The government is well within its right to seek reconsideration of proposals sent by the Collegium of the Supreme Court, he also said. He also cited a Supreme Court judgment to make his point.
"I wish to deny with all authority at my command that it has nothing to do with it (Justice Joseph's decision) at all, for two obvious reasons. Firstly, a proper (BJP-led) government with a nearly three-fourths majority has been elected in Uttarakhand. Secondly, that order was confirmed by Justice (J.S.) Khehar of the Supreme Court," Prasad said in response to a media query.
Meanwhile, a crucial Collegium meet to discuss the issue was postponed on Wednesday.
The five-member collegium, comprising Chief Justice Misra and Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph were to discuss threadbare the note sent to the CJI by Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad while returning the file relating to the recommendation to elevate Justice Joseph as a Supreme Court judge.
Justice Joseph's name was recommended along with the senior advocate Indu Malhotra on January 10 for their elevation as Supreme Court judges.
The government had on April 26 declined to accept the recommendation of the Collegium and asked it to reconsider his name.
Indu was sworn in as the judge of the Supreme Court on April 27.
Justice K M Joseph, who had headed the bench that had quashed the Narendra Modi government's decision to impose President's rule in the Congress-ruled hill state in 2016, was not considered to be elevated as a Supreme Court judge by the Centre.
It said the proposal was not in accordance with the top court's parameters and there was the adequate representation of Kerala in the higher judiciary from where he hails.
His seniority was also questioned by the Centre which said "he stands at Sl. No.45 in the combined seniority of High Court Judges on an all-India basis."
Justice Joseph, who turns 60 this June, has been the Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court since July 2014.
He was appointed a permanent judge of the Kerala High Court on October 14, 2004, and assumed charge of the Uttarakhand High Court on July 31, 2014.
The members of the Collegium, including Justices Chelameswar, Gogoi, Lokur and Kurian Joseph had expressed concern over the delay in clearing the name of the Uttarakhand Chief Justice as the Supreme Court judge.
Notwithstanding the letters written by the collegium members to the CJI, which had come into the public domain, the centre disregarded the recommendation about Justice Joseph.