Chief Justice Misra says govt has right to reject appointments
27 April 2018
The government is well within its rights to suggest a review of the Supreme Court Collegium’s decision on the appointment of a judge, Chief Justice Dipak Misra stated in reply to a letter by union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
The government on Thursday told the Supreme Court collegium to reconsider its proposal to appoint Uttarakhand High Court chief justice KM Joseph to the top court, saying the elevation may not be "appropriate".
Amidst signs of a fresh confrontation between the judiciary and the government, the government received immediate support from the collegium head, Chief Justice Dipak Misra, who said the executive was well within its rights to reject Justice Joseph's name.
While accepting the name of Indu Malhotra, a senior lawyer, whose name was proposed by the SC collegium for a judgeship of the apex court along with that of Justice Joseph, the law ministry decided to reject the name of Justice Joseph, citing some reasons.
In a letter to Justice Misra, union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government's rejection of Justice Joseph's name had the approval of the President and the Prime Minister and also flagged concern that the SCs/STs have no representation 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 said 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."
While the collegium can still reject the government's proposal and re-send Justice Joseph's name to the law ministry, the government's opposition to Justice Joseph's elevation is likely to deepen the rift between the executive and the judiciary.
Justice Joseph had antagonised the government by ruling against President's rule in Uttarakhand and bringing the ousted the Harish Rawat-led Congress government back to power – causing a major embarrassment to the BJP-ruled government at the Centre in 2016.
The government's decision has evoked sharp reactions with the Supreme Court Bar Association President terming it as "disturbing" and the opposition Congress party asserting that the independence of the judiciary "is in danger."
Meanwhile, the apex court rejected a plea of senior advocate Indira Jaisingh to stay the warrant of appointment of Malhotra.
The notification announcing the appointment of Malhotra was issued this morning by the department of justice in the law ministry.