The sources cited paucity of time - the collegium also discussed plans to elevate more judges, in addition to Justice Joseph, from the high courts to the Supreme Court during the 30-minute meeting - and an attempt to carefully consider the government's opinion as the reasons for deferring the decision.
There are altogether six vacancies in the Apex Court as against its sanctioned strength of 31.
A number of Supreme Court lawyers urged the top court to put on hold Malhotra's appointment and direct the government to clear Joseph's name - a request that was rejected by a bench led by the chief justice Misra.
Justice Chelameswar, who did not attend the court on Wednesday, however, came to attend the collegium meeting. With this order, the Congress Government was brought back to power. "Deferred", the resolution said.
"The proposal for reconsideration of the case of K.M. Joseph has the approval of President and Prime Minister", said the letter that was sent to the Chief Justice by Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. The Centre segregated both names, declined the recommendation of Justice Joseph and sought reconsideration by the Collegium while clearing the decks for appointment of Malhotra, who was since sworn in as the Judge of the apex court on April 27.
The SC website used a single word, "Deferred", to describe the outcome of the much-awaited meeting of the collegium: the first since the Centre last month segregated its recommendations for the appointment of senior advocate Indu Malhotra to the apex court and for elevation of the Uttarakhand Chief Justice.
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The top court collegium recommending the elevation of Justice Joseph had said: "The collegium considers that at present Justice K.M. Joseph, who hails from Kerala High Court and is now functioning as Chief Justice of Uttarakhand High Court, is more deserving and suitable in all respects than other Chief Justices and senior puisne Judges of High Courts for being appointed as Judges of the Supreme Court of India".
Many backers of the Uttarakhand Chief Justice have alleged that he is being penalised for his verdict striking down the dismissal of the Congress government in the state past year and are keen on his early elevation since the Centre will have no choice but to acquiesce to any reiteration by the collegium.
Three of the others said they needed time to respond to other names proposed by the CJI and also to decide if a consolidated list of the four names should be sent to the government or just the name of Justice Joseph.
His seniority was also questioned by the Centre which said "he stands at Sl".