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Row over appointment of SC judge: Apex court terms advocates' plea against Indu Malhotra 'unthinkable'; Cong says judiciary under 'most vicious attack ever'

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra made the observation while refusing to stay the Presidential warrant appointing senior woman lawyer Indu Malhotra as an apex court judge.

Edited by: India TV News Desk, New Delhi [ Updated: April 26, 2018 23:14 IST ]
Within govt's right to send back Justice Joseph's name for
Image Source : PTI

Within govt's right to send back Justice Joseph's name for reconsideration, says SC

The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to stay the Presidential warrant appointing senior woman lawyer Indu Malhotra as an apex court judge.

While refusing to stay the Presidential warrant appointing senior woman lawyer Indu Malhotra, the Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra termed the plea of advocates on it as "unimaginable," "unthinkable," "unconscionable" and "never heard before."  

The apex court bench took strong note of submission of senior advocate Indira Jaising that Malhotra be not sworn in as the apex court judge and the Centre be directed to recommend the name of Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice K M Joseph as well. 

"What kind of prayer is this," the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said, adding that the Centre is "well within its right to send back the recommendation for reconsideration." 

"Supposing the government is sending it for reconsideration, it will be seen. You are saying 'stay the warrant.' It is unthinkable, unconscionable, unimaginable and if I may add 'never heard before'," the CJI said.

Jaising referred to the Centre's decision of segregating the name of Joseph and Malhotra and said it cannot be done and either both names should have been recommended or rejected. 

"Constitutional propriety demands that the warrant of appointment of Indu Malhotra be implemented," the bench said. 

The top court said that it is surprising that a member of a bar is being appointed as a judge and lawyers are mentioning at 2pm today (Thursday) for stay of warrant of appointment.

Jaising said that she is not pressing the prayer for stay on the warrant of appointment and wants the larger issue of "cherry picking" of judges to be dealt by the court. 

She urged the court to direct listing of the matter urgently and said "we are worried about independence of judiciary." 

The bench refused to list the matter urgently and said it will come in due course of time. 

Over 100 Supreme Court Bar Association members had mentioned the plea alleging that Centre was interfering with the administration and independence of judiciary by selectively acting upon the Collegium's recommendation for appointment in the Supreme Court.

The government appointed senior advocate Indu Malhotra as a judge of the Supreme Court today and asked the collegium to reconsider its recommendation to elevate Justice Joseph, the Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice, to the apex court. 

Both the names were recommended by the collegium earlier this year. 

Govt: Justice Joseph's elevation to SC 'not fair' to others

Later, the Centre gave detailed reasons to collegium for returning recommendation of Justice K M Joseph as the Supreme Court judge.

The Govt said that the recommendation of Justice Joseph's elevation as SC judge not in accordance with parameters laid down by apex court verdicts.

There is adequate representation of judges from Kerala in the higher judiciary, said the Government.

"Elevation of Justice Joseph to SC would not be fair and justified to other more senior suitable and deserving judges," said the Government.

The proposal to reconsider Justice K M Joseph's name has approval of the President and Prime Minister.

Cong: Judiciary under most vicious attack ever

Later, the Congress accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of indulging in "revenge politics" by "refusing" to clear the elevation of the country's most senior chief justice, K M Joseph, to the Supreme Court. 

The judiciary is under the “most vicious attack ever" and totalitarianism will stump democracy if the nation does not rise now, Congress communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala alleged.

“PM Modi's ‘revenge politics' qua judiciary and ‘conspiratorial suffocation' of Supreme Court exposed again," 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.

His remarks came amid reports that the government has cleared the name of Indu Malhotra as Supreme Court judge, while putting on hold the elevation of Justice Joseph.

“Modiji shredded Parliamentary privileges and supremacy. He road-rolled independent media. Democracy's last refuge i.e Judiciary is now under most vicious attack ever. If the Nation doesn't rise in unison now, totalitarianism will stump democracy,” Surjewala tweeted.

He accused the Modi government of being a habitual offender of trashing "judicial integrity" and the "constitutional supremacy" of institutions.

In June 2014, it refused to clear noted jurist Gopal Subramaniam's name for elevation to the Supreme Court as he was a lawyer against “Amit Shah and Co”, the Congress leader said.

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