In what looks like a build-up to a massive confrontation between the government and the judiciary, the Centre on Thursday asked the Supreme Court collegium to be “objective and fair” and reconsider its recommendation for elevating Justice KM Joseph to the apex court.
The Modi government’s reaction came a day after it approved the elevation of senior advocate Indu Malhotra to the post of a Supreme Court judge but held back Justice Joseph’s promotion to the same post.
Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad wrote a letter to Chief Justice Dipak Misra and said that Justice Joseph’s elevation was not “appropriate” as there were 11 Chief Justices of various High Courts, who were senior to him, according to the sources.
On January 10, the Supreme Court collegium – a group of five senior most judges – headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra had recommended the names of Malhotra and Justice Joseph.
Modi government’s decision to block the promotion of Joseph was being linked with his 2016 verdict that struck down Centre’s order to impose President’s rule in Uttarakhand and allowed Harish Rawat-led Congress government to return to power.
Is Modi government above the law?
Reacting to the Centre’s decision to segregate the appointments, the Opposition Congress has attacked the Modi government and asked if it was above the law?
"As the law stands now, the recommendation of the SC collegium is final and binding in the appointment of judges. Is the Modi government above the law?" senior Congress P Chidambaram said.
Chidambaram accused Modi government of punishing Justice Joseph for his 2016 verdict that struck down Centre’s order to impose President’s rule in Uttarakhand.
Government interfering in functioning of the judiciary
Although, the Supreme Court Bar Association welcomed Indu Malhotra’s elevation, it accused the government of interfering in the functioning of the judiciary by not clearing justice joseph’s name.
“Indu Malhotra is a fine lawyer & she will prove to be a great judge. I have huge reservation at the attitude of the government, there is no way by which they should not have cleared Justice KM Joseph's name,” said Advocate Vikas Singh, President, Supreme Court Bar Association.
He said by making one appointment and holding the other, the Modi government interfered in functioning of the judiciary and the matter should be taken up very strongly.