Let’s start with a positive news first. Ministry of Law & Justice has cleared the appointment of Senior Advocate Indu Malhotra as a Supreme Court Judge today. This is a phenomenal decision as Indu Malhotra would become the first woman judge to be appointed to the SC judge post from the bar. She was appointed as a Senior Advocate by the Supreme Court in 2007 while she has been practicing law in the SC for 30 years.
Let’s move to a slightly unpleasant piece of news now. Two more names were recommended by the collegium of five most-senior judges from the Supreme Court. The second news which came from the Law & Justice Ministry was an unpleasant one for the Chief Justice KM Joseph from Uttarakhand High Court. Justice Joseph was the second nomination by the SC collegium for appointment as a Judge in the Supreme Court. The elevation of the Justice Joseph was put on hold by the Ministry which sent back the name to the collegium for reconsideration.
The government felt that the collegium had disregarded seniority while finalizing the list of names amongst the judges in the High Court. It is very important to note here that Justice Joseph comes at the 42nd position out of a total of 669 high court judges in the country. The government had got hold of the recommendation list forwarded by the collegium in January. The Ministry had decided to ponder over the list of names and had neither accepted nor ejected the list for 3 months or more. When the Law Ministry decided to elevate just one judge to the Supreme Court, it chose Indu Malhotra over Judge Joseph. It is a unique decision but nonetheless within the rights of the government to do so. The government has all the rights to confirm the elevation of the judges or to send it back to the collegium for reconsideration. If, however, the collegium sends the same name back to the Centre as recommendation, the Centre is obliged to accept.
Congress leaders Kapil Sibal and P Chidambaram launched a full-scaled attack at the Centre today over its refusal to elevate Justice KM Joseph to the apex court by the Supreme Court Collegium, saying the BJP just wants judges of its choice and that Modi government considers itself above the law.
The opposition parties and a few senior judges have tried to create a ruckus over the non-appointment of Judge Joseph. This has been done notwithstanding the fact that the list forwarded by the collegium of judges consisted of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra whom the Congress has often pointed fingers at for allegedly being BJP friendly. This dual game of the Congress and some media houses has to be called out. The Supreme Court bench of CJI Dipak Misra and Justice A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud also pointed out today that it was well within the government’s right to accept or return the name of the recommended judge. It also mentioned that the lawyers filing a petition asking for stay on the appointment of a member of the bar is unthinkable and unimaginable. Some lawyers had decided to raise a petition asking to put a stay on the elevation of Indu Malhotra till the position on Justice Joseph’s appointment became clear.
Dismissing the petition of the lawyers (and putting congress’ allegations to rest) the SC said that, “we (Collegium) will deal with it in accordance with SC judgments and Constitution.” when the reference would come regarding Justice Joseph’s nomination came before it. Taking a dig at the lawyers who had filed the petition SC said that what should be done if 35 names are suggested by the collegium and the Centre accepts 30 of them and rejects the other 5. Should the appointment of 30 judges be stopped just because 5 names were sent back?
This perfectly explains the situation at hand today the opposition is creating a mountain out of a molehill. The simple decision taken by the Centre is being manipulated by the opposition to show propaganda which does not exist. It is a simple decision taken by the government to maintain seniority in the elevation process to the Supreme Court judge’s post and nothing more. Congress tried really hard to hurl another ‘judicial’ bomb at the government, but looks like it exploded in their hands.
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