Legal experts tell Centre not to pick and choose between names sent for elevation to Supreme Court

New Delhi: Legal experts have cautioned the government against accepting one of the recommendations of the Supreme Court collegium for elevation to the apex court while keeping the other one on hold, pointing that a Chief Justice of India had told the law ministry not to "segregate" names sent for appointment together.

Highly-placed sources in the government said the law ministry wanted to appoint senior advocate Indu Malhotra to the Supreme Court, but wanted to keep on hold the name of Uttarakhand High Court chief justice KM Joseph.

The two names were recommended together by the SC collegium in January for elevation to the apex court. The government feels that while recommending the name of Justice Joseph, the collegium has disregarded seniority and regional representation.

A previous recommendation of the SC collegium made in 2016 proposing transfer of Justice Joseph from Uttarakhand to Andhra Pradesh remains on hold with the government. The Uttarakhand High Court chief justice had set aside the imposition of President's Rule in the state in April, 2016.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The sources said when legal exerts were asked whether the collegium's recommendation could be segregated, they reminded the government of a letter written by the then CJI RM Lodha in June, 2014 in which he had made it clear that the executive cannot segregate recommendations without prior approval of the collegium. Justice Lodha had written to the government when it had decided against elevating senior lawyer and former solicitor general Gopal Subramanium to the Supreme Court, while accepting other recommendations of the collegium.

But in the meantime, Subramanium withdrew his consent to be recommended for judgeship.

While recommending the name of Justice Joseph for the top court, the collegium had said that he is "more deserving and suitable in all respects than other chief justices and senior puisne judges of high courts for being appointed as judge of the Supreme Court of India".

The collegium had taken in to consideration combined seniority on all-India basis of chief justices and senior puisne judges of high courts, apart from their merit and integrity, the body of top five judges of the SC had said.

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Updated Date: Mar 18, 2018 10:06:13 IST

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