NEW DELHI: The Congress, which recently moved a motion for the removal of CJI Dipak Misra, on Friday urged the Supreme Court collegium to show courage and reiterate the elevation of Justice K M Joseph, rejected by the Centre on Thursday.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi, also a senior SC advocate, noted that the government was bound to accept the elevation of Justice Joseph if the collegium recommended it for the second time and said there were three judgments supporting the view.
Going a step ahead, Singhvi said the collegium could even slap a contempt of court notice on the government if it does not follow the recommendation a second time.
He charged the government with interfering in the judiciary by rejecting the collegium’s recommendation on Justice Joseph after delaying it for four months. Further, he asked why the collegium’s recommendation on advocate Indu Malhotra was accepted, thereby segregating the collegium’s suggestion.
“The collegium must stand together and reiterate its recommendation on Justice Joseph,” said Singhvi. Singhvi said the issues of CJI’s impeachment and the rejection of Justice Joseph’s elevation were not connected in any way.
“The impeachment motion has been rejected by Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu. It is not a live motion now,” said Singhvi, adding “the rejection of Justice Joseph’s elevation is a serious issue and affects the independence of the judiciary.”The Congress denied it was waging a lonely war over the issue and pointed out that the CPI-M and the TMC had supported Justice Joseph.
He made an appeal to all political parties, including BJP allies, to speak for Justice Joesph, saying his party was prepared to go it alone over the issue if needed.
“We are prepared to do ekla chalo,” he said.
“We are raising the issue as a national party,” he said, adding, “the government was playing games with the judiciary to send them a message that the Centre was all powerful.”
Singhvi said the government was rejecting the collegium’s recommendation based on content (a reference to an earlier order of Justice Joseph as Chief Justice of Uttarakhand HC against imposition of President’s Rule), something which was difficult to believe.