Madras High Court Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Orissa High Court CJ Vineet Saran’s names have also been cleared for elevation.

After 7 months Centre approves elevation of Justice KM Joseph to Supreme CourtJustice KM Joseph/PTI
news Judiciary Friday, August 03, 2018 - 12:34

Ending the long-standing impasse between the executive and judiciary, the Centre on Friday accepted the Supreme Court Collegium’s recommendation to elevate Uttarakhand High Cout Chief Justice K M Joseph, along with Madras High Court Chief Justice Indira Banerjee, and Orissa High Court Chief Justice Vineet Saran to the apex court.

The presidential warrants for these appointments will reportedly be taken shortly.

The Centre’s assent to Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice KM Joseph comes seven months after his name was first recommended by the Collegium. It was in January that the SC Collegium led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra recommended Joseph along with senior counsel Indu Malhotra.

Following a delay of three months, the Centre agreed to elevate Indu Malhotra to the Supreme Court, while withholding Justice KM Joseph’s name. The Centre returned the Collegium’s recommendation and asked them to reconsider.  The move was reportedly interpreted as the Centre’s displeasure at Justice Joseph’s April 2016 decision to quash President’s rule in Uttarakhand. However, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad denied the same.

The Centre further said that their reservation with Justice Joseph’s elevation to the Supreme Court had to do with his lack of seniority and that the Kerala High Court was adequately represented in the higher judiciary.

Justice Joseph was appointed a permanent judge of the Kerala High Court on October 14, 2004, and went on to become Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice on July 31, 2014.

The Collegium, while reiterating Justice Joseph’s name in principle, deferred re-recommending it to the Centre thrice. However, it was after Justice Saran and Justice Banerjee’s names were added in the recommendation that the Centre approved the elevation of all three. Sources told Live Law that this assured the Centre that the Collegium had taken into account its suggestions on seniority and regional representation.

Justice Indira Banerjee took over as Madras High Court Chief Justice in April 2017, succeeding Sanjay Kishan Kaul. The latter was elevated to the Supreme Court.

In her tenure at the Madras HC, Justice Banerjee has presided over several important cases. For instance, she was part of the bench which delivered a split verdict on the disqualification of AIADMK’s 18 MLAs. CJ Banerjee upheld the disqualification, while Justice M Sundar quashed it.

Further, she also voiced her opinion against the TN government’s plan to build a phoenix shaped memorial for late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa at Marina beach in Chennai. A first bench comprising Justices Banerjee and PT Asha heard were hearing a petition which claimed that the memorial was proposed to be built on land that comes under Coastal Regulation Zone norms, requiring the state government to obtain the Centre’s approval for the construction.

The same bench, in June, had directed the University Grants Commission (UGC) to set up a fee regulation committee to finalize the fee for the MBBS course in deemed universities of Tamil Nadu.

Justice Vijaya Kamalesh Tahilramani will succeed Justice Banerjee as Madras High Court Chief Justice.  

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