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Law

Centre Clears Indu Malhotra's Appointment to SC; Still Mum on K.M. Joseph

This is the second time the Modi government stands accused of blocking an individual judge on political grounds.

New Delhi: In a move that has reopened the controversy over executive interference  in the judiciary, the Narendra Modi government has once again resorted to cherrypicking names from among the Supreme Court collegium’s recommendations for judgeships.

On Thursday, the Indian Express reported that senior advocate Indu Malhotra, the first woman to be elevated to the post of a Supreme Court judge directly from the Bar, now has the requisite clearance to take oath.

However, the Centre has not said anything about the other name recommended by the collegium – that of Uttarakhand high court Chief Justice K.M. Joseph. In 2016, Justice Joseph had ruled that the Centre’s decision to impose president’s rule in Uttarakhand was unconstitutional. Since then, the Centre has been sitting on the collegium’s recommendations to transfer him to Andhra Pradesh and elevate him to the Supreme Court.

If the law ministry decides to return Justice Joseph’s name, the collegium has the power to recommend him again. At that point, the Centre will have to issue a warrant for his appointment to the Supreme Court, Indian Express reported.

After Malhotra’s clearance was announced, senior advocate Indira Jaising asked Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra not to swear her in until Justice Joseph’s name is cleared as well, and Malhotra not to accept the position.

This is the second time the Modi government stands accused of blocking an individual judge on political grounds. In June 2014, the government blocked the recommendation of Gopal Subramanium while clearing three others – Rohinton Nariman, Arun Mishra and Adarsh Kumar Goel.