**New Delhi: ** The Supreme Court collegium on Friday took an in principle decision to reiterate its recommendation for the elevation of Uttarakhand High court Chief Justice K.M. Joseph to the top court.
The collegium decided it will resend its January 10 “unanimous” recommendation for Justice Joseph’s elevation, along with other names from Calcutta, Rajasthan, and Telangana and Andhra Pradesh High Courts that would be decided at its meeting on May 16.
The collegium, comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice J. Chelameswar, Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Kurian Joseph, took the decision at a meeting here.
“The Chief Justice and other members of the collegium have, on principle, unanimously agreed that the recommendation for appointment of Justice K.M. Joseph (previously Kerala High Court) as a judge of the Supreme Court should be reiterated,” the collegium said.
However, it added that the said “reiteration should also be accompanied by the recommendation of the names of Chief Justices of High Courts for elevation as judges of the Supreme Court, for which detailed discussion is required”.
The next meeting will be held at 4.15 p.m. on Wednesday.
Though the reiteration of the recommendation is binding on the government, it may not happen soon as there is no time frame for the government to act on it.
The collegium decided to reiterate Justice Joseph’s elevation to the top court after the Central government on April 26 returned the recommendation, saying that he stood at number 42 of the all India judges seniority and there were 11 Chief Justices of the High Courts senior to him.
The government also said that the Kerala High Court being a relatively small court with a sanctioned strength of 42 judges was a parent high court for Justice Kurian Joseph, the Chief Justices of three High Courts — Justice K.M. Joseph himself (Uttarakhand), Justice T.B. Radhakrishnan (Chhattisgarh) and Justice Antony Dominic (Kerala).
There is a perception that the government was standing in the way of the elevation of Justice Joseph because of his judgment in 2016 striking down the Central government’s decision to impose President’s rule in Uttarakhand, but Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has denied this.
The top court collegium, unanimously recommending the elevation of Justice Joseph on January 10, said: “The collegium considers that at present Justice K.M. Joseph is more deserving and suitable in all respects than other Chief Justices and senior puisne Judges of High Courts for being appointed as Judges of the Supreme Court.”