The Supreme Court Collegium, headed by Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan, refused to budge from its recommendation to transfer Chief Justice of the Himachal Pradesh High Court Kurian Joseph as Chief Justice of the Jharkhand High Court.
At its meeting held on Tuesday, the Collegium considered the letter written by Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily to the CJI returning the file and expressing his opposition to the proposal. The meeting reiterated the recommendation to send Mr. Justice Joseph to the Jharkhand High Court.
Early last week, the Collegium sent a series of proposals to the Law Ministry for transfer and elevation of High Court Chief Justices and Judges. While Mr. Justice Joseph was recommended for transfer as Chief Justice of the Jharkhand High Court, the seniormost Judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, T. Meenakumari, was recommended for elevation as Chief Justice of the Himachal Pradesh High Court.
Mr. Moily, while examining the proposals, felt that Mr. Justice Joseph, who had taken over only in February, was being unnecessarily disturbed within three months. The Minister shot off a letter to the Chief Justice of India saying “the process of improvement initiated by Justice Joseph in Himachal Pradesh High Court is being widely appreciated. In case he is transferred now, the process will suffer.” He wanted the Collegium to reconsider the move.
According to highly placed sources, the Collegium at its meeting felt it would not be possible to reconsider the proposal, which was finalised after considering relevant factors such as seniority. It was felt that since Mr. Justice Joseph had given his consent for the transfer and was being sent to Jharkhand for better administration of justice, there was no question of reconsidering the proposal.
Under the rules of memorandum, once the returned Ministry proposal is reiterated by the Collegium for the second time, the government is bound to accept it and process the appointment.