The Law Ministry has cleared the name of advocate Indu Malhotra for appointment as a Supreme Court Judge. According to reports, Malhotra is the first woman in the country to be elevated directly from the bar to the bench of Supreme Court Judges.
— India Today (@IndiaToday) April 26, 2018
Malhotra’s name was cleared by the apex court collegium, comprising the five seniormost judges of the Supreme Court, on January 10th. The collegium had also cleared the name of Uttarakhand Chief Justice K M Joseph. Joseph’s name is yet to be approved by the government. According to reports, Malhotra’s file was forwarded by the Law Ministry to the Intelligence Bureau for verification in the second week of April. Malhotra has been officially appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of India.
Indu Malhotra will be the second sitting judge in the SC. Currently, Justice R Bhanumathi is the sole female sitting judge in the apex court. Malhotra will be the seventh female Supreme Court Judge in the country. Justice M Fathima Beevi, Justice Sujata V Manohar, Justice Ruma Pal, Justice Gyan Sudha Misra, Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai and Justice R Banumati have been the previous women to hold the prestigious positions. She is also the second female lawyer after Justice Lalita Seth to be designated Senior Advocate by the SC.
The government has reportedly asked the SC to reconsider the proposal to elevate Justice KM Joseph to the apex court. According to reports, the Law Ministry’s letter to the SC cites the reasons of seniority and representations as main reasons for not clearing his name. Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has reportedly written to the SC that there are presently 11 more Chief Justices of various high courts who are senior than Justice KM Joseph and his parent HC, the Kerala HC already has a judge in the SC, that is Justice Kurien Joseph. The letter has also mentioned that several states HCs do not have representation in the SC at all.
Advocate Indira Jaising today tried to move a petition asking for a stay order over the appointment of Indu Malhotra on the ground that the centre has not cleared the name of KM Joseph, but the Supreme Court bench of judges has reportedly refused to stay the appointment and stated that the centre is well within its rights to send back a name for reconsideration and the collegium will deal with the issue according to the constitution and law.