The decision was made during the meeting of the Supreme Court collegium to decide on the names of high court judges for elevation to the top court, including that of Uttarakhand chief justice KM Joseph, whose nomination was spurned by the government. According to the collegium resolution, his name would accompany recommendations for other names for elevation as SC judges.
The collegium, which is a group of five senior-most judges, earlier today, concluded a crucial meeting to discuss the elevation of Justice Joseph to the apex court.
On April 26, the government, however, had returned the Collegium's recommendation of elevating Justice Joseph.
Apart from Joseph, the other names that the collegium considered were Indira Banerjee, now chief justice of the Madras HC, who is originally from the Calcutta HC; Gujarat HC chief justice R. Subhash Reddy, who is originally from the Telangana and Andhra Pradesh HC; and Karnataka HC chief justice Dinesh Maheshwari, who is originally from the Rajasthan HC.
On May 9, Justice J Chelameswar, the second senior-most judge of the apex court, had written a letter to CJI Dipak Misra asking him to convene the collegium's meeting to discuss the issue.
The controversy over justice Joseph comes amid the unparalleled crisis that has split the apex court into two.
The additional names were considered in light of the Modi government's insistence, underlined in its letter to CJI Dipak Misra while returning the name of Joseph for reconsideration, that seniority and the principle of regional representation must be taken into consideration while recommending names.
These include: Justice Joseph is at No. 42 in the All India High Court Judges' Seniority List; his parent High Court of Kerala has "adequate representation in the Supreme Court"; several High Courts are "not represented in the Supreme Court at present"; and, "there is no representation of Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe communities in the Supreme Court since long". Naidu rejected the plea prompting the Congress-led parties to challenge his decision in the apex court itself. Malhotra has since been sworn in as a judge of the Supreme Court.
In fact, the ground for widening the ambit beyond the Uttarakhand high court CJ's name to include the names of others was set through the agenda prepared for the collegium meeting on May 2 where deliberations on reiteration of Justice K M Joseph's name were deferred. Both recommendations were sent together to the government on 10 January.