The collegium in principle on Friday agreed to reiterate Uttarakhand high court chief justice KM Joseph's name for elevation to the top court, but chose to send it back along with some other names for appointment as judges.
The Collegium, in a resolution, said there was need for further discussion on the issue of sending the other names to the Centre and made a decision to meet again on May 16.
The official collegium meeting did not take place on 9 May, as expected, but three members of the collegium - Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Kurian Joseph and Madan B. Lokur - unofficially met CJI Misra in his chambers after working hours, where they expressed their reservation at the delay in reiterating Joseph's name for elevation.
The resolution uploaded on the Supreme Court website says, the collegium met to consider reiteration of the recommendation dated 10th January, 2018 for elevation of Mr. Justice K.M. Joseph, Chief Justice, Uttarakhand High Court [Parent HC: "Kerala] as Judge of the Supreme Court; to consider names of High Court Judges for elevation as Judges of the Supreme Court".
On April 26, the government returned for reconsideration the collegium's recommendation to elevate Justice K M Joseph but notified the appointment of Malhotra as a judge.
It decided that his name "should also be accompanied by the recommendation of the names of chief justices of high courts for elevation" to the Supreme Court.
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They indicated that sending Justice Joseph's nomination along with the fresh recommendations would only give the government another opportunity to delay clearing his elevation by saying it would be approved along with the candidatures of the other nominees.
Even before Friday's decision, members of the Collegium had given indications of a possible unanimity on the name of returning the recommendation of Justice Joseph. The government also reasoned that there was adequate representation of Kerala in the higher judiciary.
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.
While asking for reconsideration, the Centre argued that Justice Joseph was way too junior in the all-India seniority list of judges and that his parent HC, Kerala, was adequately represented through Justice Kurian Joseph. "To consider names of High Court Judges for elevation as Judges of the Supreme Court".
Malhotra has joined the bench of the top court.