New Delhi: Trading charges against each other almost on daily basis, the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress Party on Thursday sparred over the appointment of judges after the Modi government asked the Supreme Court collegium to reconsider its recommendation to make K M Joseph a judge of the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court collegium had recommended the names of K M Joseph, Chief Justice of Uttarakhand High Court, and renowned lawyer Indu Malhotra to be elevated as Supreme Court judge. Indu Malhotra is the only women lawyer who has been recommended to be elevated as Supreme Judge.
It was a proud moment for the India in general and the Indian judiciary in particular for the elevation of Indu Malhotra. However, a controversy of sort erupted after the Modi government while accepting Indu Malhotra’s recommendations, asked the Supreme Court collegium to reconsider its recommendation regarding K M Joseph’s elevation to the country’s top court.
“The proposed appointment of justice K M Joseph at this stage does not appear to be appropriate. It would also not be fair and justified to other more senior, suitable, and deserving Chief Justice and senior judges of various high courts,” said a letter law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad sent to Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on Thursday.
The Congress party however smelled politics behind the government’s decision accusing Prime Minister Modi of indulging in “politics of revenge”.
“PM Modi’s ‘revenge politics’ qua judiciary and ‘conspiratorial suffocation’ of Supreme Court exposed again,” Congress Spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said on Twitter, adding that Justice Joseph, who heads the Uttarakhand high court, is India’s most senior chief justice.
“Yet Modi Government refuses to clear his elevation to SC as retribution for quashing presidential rule in Uttarakhand?” he said.
In a series of tweets, former Union finance minister also questioned the delay in Justice KM Joseph’s elevation. Questioning whether the “Modi government was above law”, Chidambaram said, “As the law stands now, the recommendation of the SC collegium is final and binding in the appointment of judges. What is holding up Justice K M Joseph’s appointment, his state, or his religion or his judgment in the Uttarakhand case?”
Surjewala and Chidambaram were referring to the decision by an Uttarakhand High Court bench headed by Justice K M Joseph quashing the imposition of President Rule in the state and reviving the Congress government headed by Harish Rawat.
Reacting to the Congress’s outburst, senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy said the grand old party is frustrated. “On one hand, they accuse the Chief Justice of India of being inclined to the BJP, and on the other, they are saying we have ignored him”, he said.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court refused to hold back the appointment of Indu Malhotra because the government has not cleared the name of Justice K M Joseph and also added that the government is within its right to send back a name for reconsideration.
“When such a reference comes, we (collegium) will deal with it in accordance with SC judgments and constitution”, the court said responding to a request by Supreme Court lawyers who wanted a stay on the warrant of appointment of Indu Malhotra.
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