Chelameswar laments non-elevation of Justice Joseph as Supreme Court judge

New Delhi: Justice J Chelameswar, who demitted office on Friday, has disapproved the Centre’s decision not to elevate Justice K M Joseph to the Supreme Court, terming the action as “not sustainable”. Justice Chelameswar, who had held an unprecedented press conference along with three other senior Supreme Court judges to highlight the alleged discrimination in allocation of cases to benches, said that the credibility of the highest judiciary was “occasionally” in danger.

“I wish and pray that he (Joseph) becomes a judge of the Supreme Court. I have not stalled it. I have been repeatedly asking for it. The collegium has unanimously reiterated its recommendation,” Chelameswar told news outlets. He said “the government does not process the recommendations (for elevation of judges) for months together. That leads to a situation where appointments are not made, vacancies are not filled. All this will result in more and more pendency.”

On the issue of his virtual revolt against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, the judge said he did not regret holding the press conference on January 12. Justice Chelameswar rued the fact that though many former judges had hailed him for his decision to highlight the deficiencies in the functioning of the apex court, right- thinking persons were not coming forward. “It is the silence of the right-thinking people that causes more damage…,” he told news portal ‘The Print’. He said that one of the former judges had wished him “strength” but had expressed inability to speak out.

Referring to the key bone of contention between him and Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, he acknowledged that the CJI was the master of roster but there was a problem with regard to allocation of cases which needed to be sorted out. Justice Chelameswar said he was “surprised” when his decision to set up a five-judge bench comprising senior-most judges to hear a case against the CJI was overturned. He said the matter (Prasad Education Trust case) was a “serious” one as a former high court judge was arrested in this case leading to registration of an FIR by the CBI. He trashed the allegation with regard to the visit of CPI leader D Raja to his official residence on the day of the January 12 press conference there.

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