Okay For Centre to Send Back Justice Joseph's Name, Won't Hold Indu Malhotra's Elevation Over It: CJI

CJI Dipak Misra's observation came after the government returned the Supreme Court Collegium’s recommendation to elevate Justice KM Joseph, who heads the Uttarakhand High Court, to the top court.

New Delhi: Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on Thursday called it "unthinkable" to put on hold the appointment of Indu Malhotra as a judge in the Supreme Court just because the central government has not cleared Justice KM Joseph's name.

"It is unthinkable, unimaginable, inconceivable and never before heard to stay her (Malhotra's) warrant of appointment," said CJI Misra.

The CJI said that nobody perhaps understands the gravity of the situation and that the Collegium will take an objective view as and when the government acts.

Senior advocates Indira Jaising, CU Singh and Vikas Singh, representing the Supreme Court Bar Association, claimed that the “unilateral” segregation of Joseph's name is a “direct attack” on the independence of the judiciary.

Jaising asked for staying the warrant of appointment issued in favour of Malhotra until the concerns are addressed.

"How do you know what the government has done? If they have sent back a name for reconsideration, they are well within their rights to do so under the Constitution Bench judgments. We will now examine it," shot back the CJI.

Sitting on the bench, Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud also pointed out that if this strict principle of no segregation was applied, appointment process will be halted for the high courts.

"Suppose Collegium sends 30 names for high courts. If the government wants us to reconsider two or three names, should they be allowed to sit over other names also? Imagine what will that do to the appointment. Should we apply different principles for appointments in high court and the Supreme Court," asked Justice Chandrachud.

"Let a decision be first taken," added Justice Khanwilkar.

At this, Singh argued that such segregation also raises the issues of seniority. The bench agreed that it could be an issue to be discussed, but there is no urgency to hear this case.

Meanwhile, the central government, on Thursday, issued the notification to appoint Malhotra as a judge in the top court. She is likely to be sworn in on Friday or on Monday by the CJI.