In a new showdown with the judiciary, the government on Thursday advised the Supreme Court collegium to re-evaluate its proposition to designate Uttarakhand high court chief justice KM Joseph to the supreme court, stating that his elevation may not be “appropriate”.
The government got quick support from the collegium head, Chief Justice Dipak Misra, who said the executive was well inside its rights to not accept Justice Joseph’s name while accepting the second name despite the fact that both were suggested for rise together by the collegium. The names of Justice Malhotra and Justice Joseph were recommended by the collegium in January.
In a letter to Justice Misra, central law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government’s non-acceptance of Justice Joseph’s name has endorsement of the President and the Prime Minister and furthermore hailed that the SCs/STs have no portrayal in the Supreme Court since long.
“The proposed appointment of .. Joseph as a Judge of the Supreme Court at this stage does not appear to be appropriate,” Prasad wrote in the letter. “It would also not be fair and justified to other more senior, suitable and deserving Chief Justices and senior judges of various High Courts.”
In principle, the collegium can in any case dismiss the government’s proposition and re-send Justice Joseph’s name to the law ministry, which would then be able to choose the future action.
The government’s resistance to Justice Joseph’s elevation is probably going to extend the rift between the government and the judiciary.
In a decision in 2016, Justice Joseph had scratched off President’s rule in Uttarakhand and took reinstated the then Congress government of Harish Rawat in the state. The judgment was seen around then as a noteworthy misfortune to the BJP-ruled government at the Center.