Supreme Court judge writes to CJI over delay in judges' appointments, says 'very life and existence' of institution under threat

Irked over the government's delay in clearing the collegium's recommendation to elevate a judge and a senior woman advocate to the apex court, Supreme Court judge Justice Kurian Joseph has written a letter to the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra contending that the 'very life and existence' of the institution was 'under threat' and a 'surgical intervention' is required.

PTI April 13, 2018 09:04:11 IST
Supreme Court judge writes to CJI over delay in judges' appointments, says 'very life and existence' of institution under threat

New Delhi: Irked over the government's delay in clearing the collegium's recommendation to elevate a judge and a senior woman advocate to the apex court, Supreme Court judge Justice Kurian Joseph has written a letter to the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra contending that the "very life and existence" of the institution was "under threat" and a "surgical intervention" is required.

The apex court collegium, headed by the CJI, had in January sent to the Centre the names of senior advocate Indu Malhotra and Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice KM Joseph for their appointment as judges in the apex court. However, the Centre is yet to take a decision on the names.

Supreme Court judge writes to CJI over delay in judges appointments says very life and existence of institution under threat

File image of Justice Kurian Joseph. Image courtesy: News18/SupremeCourt

Justice Joseph, who is a member of the collegium, said it was the "government's duty" to act on the recommendations of the names and dubbed the executive's failure to discharge their duty as "abuse of power.”

"Today, we complete three months since we resolved to recommend senior advocate Indu Malhotra and Justice KM Joseph for appointment as judges of the Supreme Court. To my limited information, it is the first time in the history of this court where nothing is known as to what has happened to a recommendation even after three months. Government owes a duty to take a call on the recommendation as soon as the same is sent from the collegium," he said.

"Failure to discharge their duty by sitting on the recommendations of the collegium, in administrative law, is abuse of power. More than anything else, it sends a wrong message, which is loud and clear to all judges down the line not to cause any displeasure to the executive lest they should suffer. Is this not a threat to the independence of the judiciary," asked Justice Joseph in his letter, which has now become public.

He requested the CJI to set up a bench of seven senior-most judges to take up the matter of appointments to its logical conclusion.

"When Justice Karnan challenged the dignity of the court, you may kindly recall that we met in Full Court and resolved to take the issue suo motu on judicial side. The Full Court was also of the view that in such important matters, the first seven judges should sit and deal with the same...," he said.

"Is not the present a more grievous situation? In Justice Karnan's case if it was a threat to the dignity of the court, the present one is a threat to the very life and existence of the institution...I am of the view that following the precedent in Justice Karnan's case, we should take up the matter on the judicial side in a bench of first seven or more as you please. I mentioned the first seven only because of the mandate of the Full Court in Justice Karnan's case," he said.

Justice CS Karnan was a former judge of Calcutta High Court who had made serious allegations against the judges of the apex court.

In an unprecedented order, the top court had held the controversial judge guilty of contempt of court and sentenced him to jail for six months.

Referring to the vacancies, he said the top court was reeling under pressure of work and working with a strength of 24 as against 31 and "the dignity, honour and respect of the institution was going down day by day" as the recommendations made by the court were not being taken to take their logical conclusion.

"You may recall, and as has been the practice, it was our decision to send the names in a phased manner so that there may not be any administrative or other difficulty. We are not able to sit for the second phase since the fate of the first phase is not yet known," he said.

"The dignity, honour and respect of this institution is going down day by day since we are not able to take the recommendations for appointment to this court to their logical conclusion within the normally expected time. I am more worried about the irreparable injury that is being caused by the wrong message sent to the judges down the line. It appears your personal efforts have not been fruitful," he said.

Justice Joseph sought urgent intervention from the CJI, stating that “if there is no normal delivery on completion of the gestation period, what is urgently done is a caesarean section. Unless such a surgical intervention is made at an appropriate time, the child in the womb dies," Justice Joseph said.

"Therefore, I request you, in the interest of the this great institution and independence of the judiciary for which all of us have fought so vigorously and tirelessly, to have an appropriate bench in the lines of the precedent set by Justice Karnan's case constituted forthwith before the child dies, otherwise I feel, history will not pardon us," Justice Joseph said.

The copy of the letter has been sent to other fellow judges.

The collegium is headed by the CJI and has Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Justice Joseph as its members.

Updated Date:

also read

California mass shooting: Gun laws in the state are stricter than in the rest of US, but are they enough?
World

California mass shooting: Gun laws in the state are stricter than in the rest of US, but are they enough?

A gunman went on a rampage in California’s Monterey Park on Sunday, killing 10 people during Chinese New Year celebrations. This is despite the state having some of the strictest gun laws in the US including a ban on semi-automatic rifles and restrictions on the sale of high-capacity magazines

US states take control of abortion debate with funding focus
World

US states take control of abortion debate with funding focus

When the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year and gave control of abortion policy to the states, it led to bans and restrictions in some states, and executive orders and laws protecting access in others

Explained: Why kids in Italy have the legal right not to see their grandparents
Explainers

Explained: Why kids in Italy have the legal right not to see their grandparents

In Italy, parents of two children appealed against the decision of a lower court which had forced the youngsters to spend time with their grandparents. Now, the top court has said that this is not an obligation