Collective Assertion - On Justice Joseph’s Elevation: The Hindu Editorial

Collective Assertion - On Justice Joseph’s Elevation: The Hindu Editorial

Collective Assertion - On Justice Joseph’s Elevation: The Hindu Editorial

It may no longer be possible for the Union government to delay Justice K.M. Joseph’s elevation to the Supreme Court. The five-member collegium has unanimously agreed, in principle, to reiterate its recommendation to appoint the Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court as a judge of the Supreme Court. When reiterated unanimously, the Centre is bound to act on the collegium resolution, going by the law laid down by the Supreme Court in the Third Judges Case of 1998. The Centre, which denies that its objection had anything to do with Justice Joseph’s decision in 2016 to quash the imposition of President’s Rule in Uttarakhand, ought not to delay his appointment once the reiteration is formally made. However, it is puzzling that the collegium didn’t send its reiteration to the Centre immediately. 
It has decided that his name would be part of the next set of recommendations, which would include proposals to elevate the Chief Justices of some more high courts. One explanation for this could be that the collegium wants to address the concern the Centre has indirectly raised about the need for fair representation to all high courts. While objecting to Justice Joseph’s appointment on the ground that he was not senior enough, the Centre spoke about ‘excessive representation’ that a relatively ‘small’ high court (the Kerala High Court) may get after his appointment. While the unanimous reiteration may end the current controversy, there is a larger issue here: the propriety of the Centre holding back one or two names from a list of recommendations and clearing the rest. Justice Joseph’s name was sent along with that of senior advocate Indu Malhotra in January, but the Centre took three months to act on it. It cleared her name alone, while seeking reconsideration of Justice Joseph’s name. 
That it has a right to raise a particular judge’s case is beyond question, but selectively approving some names from a batch of recommendations can make a difference to the seniority of the judges concerned — especially when seniority is the sole consideration for appointment of the Chief Justice as well as membership of the collegium. In a judge-recommended system of appointments, one that is peculiar to India, differences over particular candidates cannot be avoided, but it ought to be possible for the two sides to minimise these differences and act expeditiously. The onus is more on the government of the day to ensure it is not seen as blocking the appointment of anyone the judges themselves have found fit and deserving. It does not augur well for the institution if the present consultative process, admittedly not an ideal one for a diverse democracy, is seen to be vitiated by executive intransigence.


1) Collegium
Meaning: An organization for people who have similar interests or who do similar work, especially in a university.
Example: No one wanted to miss the inaugural meeting of the Collegium of Black Women Philosophers at Vanderbilt University.
2) Reiterate
Meaning: Say something again or a number of times, typically for emphasis or clarity.
Example: “she reiterated that the government would remain steadfast in its support”
Synonyms: Repeat, Restate
3) Bound
Meaning: Place within certain limits; restrict.
Example: “freedom of action is bounded by law”
Synonyms: Limit, Restrict
4) Laid down
Meaning: To officially establish a rule, or to officially say how something should be done.
Example: This is in line with the policy laid down by the management.
5) Objection
Meaning: An expression or feeling of disapproval or opposition; a reason for disagreeing.
Example: “they have raised no objections to the latest plans”
Synonyms: Protest, Demur
Antonyms: Approval, Acceptance
6) Quash
Meaning: Reject as invalid, especially by legal procedure.
Example: “his conviction was quashed on appeal”
Synonyms: Cancel, Reverse
Antonyms: Validate
7) Puzzling
Meaning: Think hard about something because one cannot understand it.
Example: “she was still puzzling over this problem when she reached the office”
Synonyms: Consider, Contemplate
8) Elevate
Meaning: Raise to a more important or impressive level.
Example: “he was elevated to Secretary of State”
Synonyms: Promote, Upgrade
Antonyms: Demote
9) Concern
Meaning: A matter of interest or importance to someone.
Example: “housing is the concern of the Housing Executive”
Synonyms: Responsibility, Duty
10) Unanimous
Meaning: (of an opinion, decision, or vote) held or carried by everyone involved.
Example: “this requires the unanimous approval of all member states”
Synonyms: Uniform, Consistent
11) Consideration
Meaning: A fact or a motive taken into account in deciding something.
Example: “the idea was motivated by political considerations”
Synonyms: Factor, Concern
12) Peculiar
Meaning: Particular; special.
Example: “any attempt to explicate the theme is bound to run into peculiar difficulties”
Synonyms: Distinctive, Specific
13) Expeditiously
Meaning: With speed and efficiency.
Example: “the directors will move expeditiously to reach a conclusion”
14) Onus
Meaning: Something that is one’s duty or responsibility.
Example: “the onus is on you to show that you have suffered loss”
Synonyms: Burden, Obligation
15) Augur
Meaning: (of an event or circumstance) portend a good or bad outcome.
Example: “the end of the cold war seemed to augur well”
Synonyms: Herald, Bode
16) Consultative
Meaning: Intended to give professional advice or recommendations.
Example: “a process of consultative review”
17) Diverse
Meaning: Showing a great deal of variety; very different.
Example: “a culturally diverse population”
Synonyms: Various, Manifold
Antonyms: Similar, Uniform
18) Vitiated
Meaning: Destroy or impair the legal validity of.
Example: “the insurance is vitiated because of foolish acts on the part of the tenant”
19) Intransigence
Meaning: Refusal to change one’s views or to agree about something.
Example: “in the face of government intransigence, he resigned in disgust”
20) Mounting
Meaning: Gradually increasing.
Example: Mounting anxiety/excitement.
Synonyms: Increase, Intensify
Antonyms: Decrease

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