After deliberating for more than 90 minutes, the Supreme Court collegium could not reach a consensus on reiterating the name of justice KM Joseph for elevation to the apex court. The decision has been deferred, but the date for the next collegium meeting has not been decided yet.
The Centre had recently sent back the file of Uttarakhand chief justice KM Joseph for reconsideration, despite a recommendation from the collegium.
Sources within the collegium suggested that the chief justice of India was of the view that other names also need to be considered before making any further recommendations for elevation to the Supreme Court. Sources indicated that the other four judges, justices Kurien Joseph, Ranjan Gogoi, J Chelameswar and Madan Lokur were of the view that there should be a clear stand by the judiciary against executive interference.
Sources have indicated that more names, including that of justices Indira Banerjee and R Subhash Reddy, were also being discussed for elevation. According to the same sources, these names were discussed in the light of Modi government insisting on more names from the collegium.
For a name to be asserted back to the government, the collegium recommendation has to be unanimous. The usual convention demands that once a name is reasserted by the collegium, the Centre must accept the recommendation. Out of the two names recommended by the Supreme Court collegium, the name of senior advocate Indu Malhotra was cleared by the Centre while justice Joseph's file was returned.
Even in the past, there have been row over appointment of Supreme Court judges recommended by the collegium. For example, the collegium headed by the then CJI RM Lodha in 2014 had recommended name of former solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam that was rejected by the government. Subramanium, however, later withdrew his name and justice Lodha issued a public statement condemning the government.
The Supreme Court has seen such stalemate also during the elevation of justice Vikramjit Sen, justice V Gopal Gowda and justice MY Iqbal. Their files were returned by the Centre and reiterated by the Supreme Court collegium. All three were eventually elevated to the Supreme Court.