It is learnt that the Collegium comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M.B. Lokur and Kurian Joseph, would send Justice K.M. Joseph's name along with the recommendations for other names for elevation as Supreme Court judges.
The central government returned the recommendation for reconsideration of justice Joseph's elevation saying that the jurist stood at number 42 in seniority among high court judges and there were 11 chief justices of different high courts who were senior to him. These names are to be decided at a meeting to be held on 16 May.
Sources suggested that the Collegium deliberated on the names of some of the senior Chief Justices of High Courts of Madras, Calcutta, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka.
Earlier on April 26, the government had rejected the Collegium's recommendation to elevate Justice Joseph. It is believed that just sending Justice K M Joseph's name back would have suggested that the apex court was directly challenging the Centre and so, a middle-of-the-road course was adopted.
The Supreme Court Collegium meeting of Friday (May 11) threw up a solution of sorts, nearly exactly as India Legal had predicted.
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While Malhotra's appointment was approved last month, the government sent back the name of Justice Joseph, citing seniority and regional representation as its concerns. The Centre argued that this HC has enjoyed fair representation in the SC and now has a judge from that State HC. The collegium consisted of a group of five most-senior judges. In a strongly worded letter to CJI Misra, Justice Kurian Joseph said the "very life and existence" of the Supreme Court was under threat and "history will not pardon us", if the court doesn't respond to the government sitting on the recommendation.
It decided that his name "should also be accompanied by the recommendation of the names of chief justices of high courts for elevation" to the Supreme Court.
It is important for all members of the collegium to be on board as the 1988 Supreme Court ruling in the Third Judges Case specifies that the reiteration of a name must be unanimous and not a vote by majority. On May 2, the collegium met to reconsider Joseph's elevation to the Supreme Court.
The Congress-led opposition was quick to allege that the Centre's decision to return the recommendation was triggered by justice Joseph's judgement against the imposition of President's Rule in Uttarakhand.
The decision might trigger yet another round of judiciary vs government confrontation.