Govt is sitting on collegium recommendations; History won’t pardon us if we do not respond: Justice Kurian Joseph writes to CJI

In the latest addition to the series of letters being written to the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra by the senior most judges of the Supreme Court, Justice Kurian Joseph writes that the the “very life and existence” of the Supreme Court is under threat and “history will not pardon us,” if the court doesn’t respond to the government’s unprecedented act of sitting on the collegium’s recommendation to elevate a judge and a senior advocate to the Supreme court.

Referring to the collegium’s decision in February to recommend the names of senior advocate Indu Malhotra and Justice K M Joseph, Chief Justice of Uttarakhand High Court, for appointment as judges of the Supreme Court, Justice Kurian Joseph said:

“it is the first time in the history of this court where nothing is known as to what has happened to a recommendation after three months.”

Allegedly the Central government is sitting on the name of Justice K M Joseph who had ruled in April 2016 against the Centre in the case of imposing President’s Rule in Uttarakhand.

He has, hence, asked the CJI to establish a bench of seven senior most judges to suo motu take up the matter of the government sitting on the two names. Demanding immediate intervention of CJI, Justice Kurian Joseph wrote:

“if there is no normal delivery on completion of the gestation period, what is urgently done is a Cesarean section. Unless such a surgical intervention is made at an appropriate time, the child in the womb dies.”

In his letter, Justice Kurian Joseph wrote that government owes a duty to take a call on the recommendation as soon as the same is sent from the Collegium. Failure to discharge their duty by sitting over on the recommendations of the Collegium doing nothing, in administrative law, is abuse of power. He further wrote:

“more than anything else, it sends a wrong message which is loud and clear to all Judges down the line not to cause any displeasure to the Executive lest they should suffer. Is this not a threat to the independence of the judiciary?”

Justice Kurian Joseph asked the CJI that:

“following the precedent in Justice Karnan’s case, we should take up the matter on the judicial side in a Bench of first seven or more as you please. I mentioned the first seven only because of the mandate of the Full Court in Justice Karnan’s case.”

He said that while Justice Karnan’s case “was a threat to the dignity of the court, the present one is a threat to the very life and existence of the institution.

Last month, Justice Chelameswar wrote a letter to the CJI, highlighting the issue of ‘executive bidding’ by Justice Dinesh Maheswari, the Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court for the elevation of Krishna Bhat, a District & Sessions Judge. In the letter, he had said:

“I am of the opinion that this matter is now ripe for the consideration of the Full Court on the judicial side, if this institution really is to be any more relevant in the scheme of the Constitution.”

In January this year, the senior most judge of the Supreme Court of India, Justice J. Chelameswar, along with Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Kurian Jospeh, held a press conference over the controversy relating to assignment of cases by the CJI. The letter addressed to the CJI read:

“It is with great anguish and concern that we have thought it proper to address this letter to you no as to highlight certain judicial orders passed by this Court which has adversely affected the overall functioning of the justice delivery system and the independence of the High Courts besides impacting the administrative functioning of the Office of the Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India.”

Source & Photo Credit: Indian Express

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