NEW DELHI: Congress leaders Kapil Sibal and P Chidambaram attacked the Centre today over its refusal to elevate Justice KM Joseph to the apex court by the Supreme Court Collegium, saying the BJP just wants judges of its choice and that the Narendra Modi government considers itself above the law.
Several other prominent lawyers also criticised the Centre on the same issue. However, the BJP retorted, saying that the Congress has no moral authority to raise such issues as it too has superseded judges when in power.
Earlier today, senior Congress leader Chidambaram tweeted saying he was “delighted” Indu Malhotra is being elevated to the top court but “disappointed” that Justice Joseph’s appointment is still on hold.
Delighted that Ms Indu Malhotra will be sworn in as Judge of the Supreme Court tomorrow. Disappointed that Justice… https://t.co/kucAB4ISFm
— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) 1524713454000
Chidambaram then wondered why Joseph’s elevation is being stalled.
“What is holding up Justice K M Joseph’s appointment? His State or his religion or his judgement in the Uttarakhand case?” he asked.
What is holding up Justice K M Joseph’s appointment? His State or his religion or his judgement in the Uttarakhand case?
— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) 1524713557000
The Uttarakhand case the Congress leader is referring to is the one where the Uttarakhand High Court – with Joseph heading the bench – quashed the imposition of President’s rule in Uttarakhand after the dismissal of the Congress government led by Harish Rawat in 2016.
“They are unwilling to accept the collegium’s recommendations but only want judges that are favourable to them,” said the Congress party’s Sibal at a press conference.
Several noted advocates also came out in support of Justice Joseph and against the Centre’s move.
“What do legal luminaries who defend the Chief Justice along with the BJP on (against) his impeachment, have to say about the government stalling the appointment of Justice KM Joseph, because he had given the Uttarakhand judgement against the BJP government? Is this not important for independence of judiciary?” tweeted advocate Prashant Bhushan.
What do legal luminaries who defend the CJI along with the BJP on his impeachment, have to say about the govt stall… https://t.co/eeF6OQfkIy
— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) 1524723504000
Another reputed advocate Indira Jaising sought a stay on Justice Malhotra’s elevation to the SC claiming the government has stalled the appointment of Justice Joseph. The top refused to do that. Jaising said more than 100 lawyers have signed a petition to question the government’s decision to cherry pick names recommended for appointment as SC judges.
Meanwhile, the BJP’s Prasad went on the offensive and said the Congress party’s record with the judiciary when in power is spotty.
“The Congress has no moral authority or stand to ask questions about dignity of the judiciary from us. The whole record of Congress party is littered with repeated instances as to how the judiciary of India was supposed to be compromised,” said Prasad.