Govt approves Indu Malhotra’s appointment as SC judge, returns Judge Joseph’s recommendation; SC dismisses petition against Indu Malhotra’s appointment


New Delhi, Apr 26 (PTI) The central government has accepted the SC collegium’s recommendation and approved the appointment of Indu Malhotra as a judge of the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the government on Thursday returned to the Supreme Court collegium its recommendation to elevate Justice KM Joseph to the apex court and asked it to reconsider it, a move which may widen the rift between the judiciary and the executive.

This comes a day after the government cleared the appointment of senior advocate Indu Malhotra as a judge of the Supreme Court and kept in abeyance a decision on Joseph, who heads the Uttarakhand High Court. Both the names were recommended by the collegium in January.

In a ruling in 2016, Justice Joseph had cancelled President’s rule in the northern state of Uttarakhand and brought back the Congress government of Harish Rawat to power. The judgement was seen as major set back to the BJP-ruled government at the Centre.

The government’s decision of not approving Joseph’s name has evoked sharp reactions with the Supreme Court Bar Association President terming it as “disturbing”.

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad wrote to Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra this morning requesting the collegium, a group of five senior-most judges that selects judges for the apex court, to reconsider its decision on recommending Justice Joseph to be a judge of the top court.

Prasad also informed the CJI that senior advocate Malhotra has on Thursday been appointed a judge of the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the SC has dismissed a petition filed by senior advocate Indira Jaisingh asking for a stay on the appointment of Indu Malhotra as SC judge. A bench comprising CJI Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud observed that it is the constitutional right of the government to return a judge’s name for reconsideration by the Collegium. In such cases, the Collegium would look at precedent and the constitution of India and act accordingly.

The bench observed that, “Constitutional propriety demands that warrant of appointment of Indu Malhotra be implemented”. The bench also remarked that lawyers filing a petition seeking a stay on the appointment of a member of the bar is unimaginable, unthinkable, inconceivable and, to say the least, never heard of.

Jaisingh petitioned for a stay claiming that the government had rejected Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice Joseph’s elevation to the Supreme Court despite the collegium recommending it.

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