Well-known legal rights organization, Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR), has said that Justice KM Joseph’s non-elevation to Supreme Court judge is linked with his “bold decision striking down the imposition of President’s rule by the Centre in Uttrakhand last year.”
Alleging that the decision not to elevate the Uttarakhand chief justice “has been influenced by pressure from the government”, CJAR has demanded that the full text of Justice J Chelameswar’s dissenting note to the collegium objecting to the non-elevation of Justice Joseph be “put in public domain.”
One of the most influential legal rights organization of India, those associated with CJAR include top Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan, former former judges PB Sawant and H Suresh, well-known Magsaysay winning writer Aruna Roy, senior right to information activist Nikhil Dey, other senior activists, experts and lawyers.
Says a CJAR, “As a member of the Supreme Court collegium, while Justice Chelameswar has not disagreed with the names of the five other judges that have been proposed for elevation to the Supreme Court, his criticism that Justice Joseph has been sidelined, is right and justified.”
This is the first time in the annals of the Supreme Court collegium that a member has written a dissent note. Normally such views are conveyed orally.
“We regard Justice Jospeh to have had an outstanding record as an independent judge of high integrity and holding secular views. His being sidelined is surprising since his name for elevation to the Supreme Court, was even recommended by the previous collegium headed by Justice TS Thakur”, CJAR insists.
Pointing out that “transparency in the working of public functionaries, both the judiciary and the government, is critical in a democracy”, CJAR says, “It is ironic that there has been complete opacity from both these institutions” about “disclosing a draft of the memorandum of procedure for appointments to the High Court and Supreme Court.”
“The process has been shrouded in secrecy, excluding public participation in this crucial process”, CJAR says, adding, “There have only been leaked media reports and speculations on certain contentious clauses in the memorandum that have been going back and forth between the government and the judiciary.”
Contending that “repeated requests from CJAR for a draft of the memorandum to be shared” have received “no response”, CJAR asks the Supreme Court chief justice JS Khehar to make public the memorandum, which is being how finalised by the judiciary.