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On the sidelines of a book release at Ernakulam Town Hall, Justice Kurian said, “The list of names sent by the collegium getting altered, cut short and later sent back has never happened before… The hope is that there would be discussions on how it happened so that it wouldn’t happen again.”
On April 28, he had told reporters in Thrissur that the collegium, which was scheduled to meet on May 2, was planning to send back Justice Joseph’s name to the Central government for reconsideration. However, the collegium subsequently decided to defer discussion on the matter.
Reacting to the remarks made by Justice Kurian then, a senior government official had said it was “distressing” to see a member of the collegium discussing in the open “whom to appoint and whom not to”. Pointing out that there was a well-established tradition that judges didn’t speak their minds on such sensitive matters, the official wondered at the appropriateness of the collegium meeting if decisions had already been taken unofficially.
In Thrissur on April 28, Justice Kurian had also dwelt on the issue of regional representation and seniority and said that they could not be the main criteria for selection of judges to the apex court.
It may be recalled that the Central government had asked the collegium to reconsider Justice Joseph’s nomination, saying that his elevation would increase the number of judges from the Kerala High Court in the SC to two, even though many high courts do not have any representation in the top court’s bench. The government had also contended that there many HC chief justices senior to Justice Joseph.
Opposition parties, however, have claimed that Justice Joseph is being penalised for a 2016 verdict in which he had struck down President’s Rule in Uttarakhand, a charge denied by the government.
In a letter to CJI Dipak Misra, Justice Kurian had sought a full court meeting to discuss the Centre dilly-dallying on collegium recommendations to appoint Justice Joseph and senior advocate Indu Malhotra as judges of the SC.