Rejecting a petition to hold Indu Malhotra’s appointment as Supreme Court judge, Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra on Thursday said that the Centre was well within its rights to not elevate Justice KM Joseph.
“If centre has segregated the recommendation and sent one of the names for reconsideration then they are within their rights,” CJI Misra said.
Misra also rejected the petition filed by over 100 lawyers to hold the appointment of Malhotra as an apex court judge, saying it would be “unthinkable, unimaginable and inconceivable” do stay her elevation.
On Wednesday, the Modi government had approved the appointment of senior advocate Malhotra as a Supreme Court judge but put on hold its decision on Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice KM Joseph.
Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad wrote a letter to Chief Justice, asking him to be “objective and fair” and reconsider its recommendation for elevating Justice Joseph. Read More: Centre asks CJI to reconsider Justice KM Joseph’s elevation
Worried about the independence of judiciary: Indira Jaising
Senior advocate Indira Jaising, who moved the petition seeking to put on hold the appointment of Malhotra as a Supreme Court judge, said, “We are worried about the independence of judiciary.”
In the petition, the lawyer sought the CJI to put Malhotra’s appointment on hold until the Centre approves Justice Joseph’s elevation as an apex court judge.
The Centre’s decision to block the promotion of Joseph was being linked with his 2016 verdict that struck down the Modi government’s order to impose President’s rule in Uttarakhand and allowed Harish Rawat-led Congress government to return to power.
Centre Wants Judges of Its Choice, Judiciary in Danger: Congress
Attacking the Modi government for holding Justice Joseph’s elevation, the Congress on Thursday said that the central government wanted to appoint the judges of its own choice, thus India’s democracy was in danger.
“Have heard today that the government has returned the file for reconsideration. This has been our charge - that the central government wants judges of their choice,” senior lawyer and Congress leader Kapil Sibal said in a press conference.
Sibal said that the Congress party had been saying for weeks that Indian Judiciary was in danger and it doesn’t stand united in one voice then democracy would be in danger.
“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?” asked another Congress leader P Chidambaram.
Don’t ask us questions about dignity of judiciary: Centre
Reacting to the Congress party’s accusations, the law minister said that the Grand Old Party had no moral authority to ask questions about the dignity of the judiciary as it had littered it repeatedly in the past.
“Congress Party has no moral authority or stand to ask questions about dignity of the judiciary from us. The whole record of Congress party is littered with repeated instances as to how the judiciary of India was supposed to be compromised,” Prasad said.
“It is responsibility of every political party & organisation to maintain dignity of constitutional institutions,” Singh said.