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Judge Cyriac of NHRC fame gave 10 verdicts in 1,300 days
NAVTAN KUMAR  New Delhi | 18th May 2013

Former Supreme Court judge Cyriac Joseph

Former Supreme Court judge Cyriac Joseph, who is being considered for the post of Member, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), has a lazy track record of delivering only 10 judgements during his nearly four-year stint in the Apex court. Joseph was a judge in the Supreme Court between 7 July 2008 and 27 January 2012, a period of 1,300 days.

Interestingly, two months ago, Joseph's candidature for the post of TDSAT (Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal) chairman ran into rough weather for his sluggish style of functioning. Union Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal sought the comments of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir on the matter. Joseph did not get that post.

Joseph's detractors also accuse him of delaying the pronouncement of a judgement against Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav in a disproportionate assets (DA) case. When it came to giving the verdict on 10 February 2009, just ahead of the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, Joseph said he was "reserving it". Mulayam Singh Yadav had supported the UPA 1 government in the July 2008 no-confidence vote over the nuclear deal and went on to support the UPA II government after the April-May 2009 elections. Joseph retired in January 2012. A reconstituted bench gave the judgement on 13 December 2012 that the CBI should continue with its investigation against Yadav without interference from the Centre.

Joseph also allegedly tried to interfere with a pending investigation in a criminal prosecution in the murder of a nun, Sister Abhaya in Kerala by visiting the forensic laboratory where the analysis of the narco test of the accused was being conducted. Joseph was a sitting judge in the Supreme Court at the time. The incident caused huge resentment in the lawyers' fraternity. Subsequently, the Kozhikode Bar Association passed a resolution against Joseph demanding an investigation into his role and sought his suspension from work for that period.Image 2nd

Joseph's candidature for the post of Member, NHRC is being opposed by BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley. However, the government plans to go ahead with his appointment despite the opposition. The vacancy was created after G.P. Mathur completed his term in January this year.

Vrinda Grover, a senior lawyer, who is opposing Joseph's candidature said, "How can a judge found unfit for the post of TDSAT chairman owing to his working style is fit for the membership of the NHRC? The spate of violations experienced by people across the country demands from the members of the NHRC a very high level of integrity, commitment and efficiency, as the right to life and dignity of the most disadvantaged is at stake."

She also accused Joseph of making derogatory remarks in the presence of women lawyers during the course of arguments in the court causing harassment to them. "A judge both in his judgements and in his conduct is expected to be respectful of women including women lawyers," she said.

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