Former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has given “full credit” to his predecessor Justice Dipak Misra for the elevation of Justice KM Joseph to the Supreme Court by employing “strongarm tactics”, despite objections from the government in writing.
Then Chief Justice of Uttarakhand High Court Justice Joseph headed a Bench that set aside the NDA government’s decision to impose president’s rule in the state in 2016 and it was speculated that the Government didn’t want him to land in the Supreme Court.
In his recently published autobiography, Justice for the Judge, Justice Gogoi wrote that Justice Chelameswar, who had been boycotting collegium meetings, pushed Justice Joseph’s name for appointment as a judge of the Supreme Court as he told the collegium that “he saw no reason as to why Justice KM Joseph had not been recommended”.
“Justice (JS) Khehar, due to become the Chief Justice shortly, promised to do so. Justice Chelameswar then agreed to attend the meetings of the Collegium. Immediately after Justice Khehar assumed office, the Collegium recommended four names for elevation. But the case of Justice Joseph was not taken up as promised. Justice Chelameswar once again was very upset,” Justice Gogoi wrote.
“Eventually, in January 2018, when Justice Misra was the CJI, Justice Joseph was recommended along with Justice Indu Malhotra, a leading member of the Bar, for elevation to the Supreme Court Bench. However, the proposal of Justice Joseph ran into rough waters. There were objections in writing from the Government of India with regard to the all-India seniority of Justice Joseph to justify his appointment as a judge of the Supreme Court.
“The government was all set to notify the appointment of Justice Malhotra and exclude Justice Joseph. Here, I must give full credit to Chief Justice Misra. I have reasons to believe that he used strong-arm tactics i.e. threatening to resign if Justice Joseph was not appointed. Finally, on 3 August 2018, the appointment of Justice Joseph as a judge of the Supreme Court was notified by the Government of India,” wrote Justice Gogoi – who had held an unprecedented press conference along with three other senior-most judges against Justice Misra on 12 January 2018.
“But, contrary to practice, his name appeared below Justice Malhotra’s in the warrant of appointment. Again, a controversy erupted. There was some speculation and a few reactions in the social media that Justice Joseph should not and would not take the oath of office. By that time, Justice Chelameswar had retired. I spoke to him to gauge the authenticity of the rumours. He scoffed and said that Justice Joseph would certainly take the oath, which he did on 7 August (2018),” Justice Gogoi wrote.