The Centre on Friday said the 12 high court judges recommended for transfer by the panel of five seniormost judges of the country (Supreme Court collegium) were not being sent on punishment postings.
Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily said the transfers will help judges have wider exposure that will prove beneficial in the long run. However, one of the judges in the transfer list, Justice R.S. Mohite of the Bombay High Court, has resigned in protest.
Moily also defended the decision of Chief Justice of India, Justice S.H. Kapadia, to reverse the judges transfer policy of not sending chief justices of high courts to their own states. "There are around 650 HC judges in India. The decision to transfer a dozen among them is no cause for alarm. There may be a few more transfers," Moily said.
Moily denied the judges were being transferred following complaints of corruption and misconduct. "It is incorrect to assume anything of this sort. These are not punishment postings. It will help them get a better view on places that they might want to know more," he said.
In an apparent response to CJI Kapadia's phrase that the transfers were being done in "public interest", Moily said such initiative would have the full support of the government.
Asked about the reported decision by the collegium to send AP HC chief justice Nisar Ahmed Kakru to J&K, from where he hails, Moily said: "There is no legal bar on this..."
It is learnt that the present chief justice of the J&K High Court, Aftab Hussain Saikia, who is from Assam will be sent to Gauhati High Court.
"Both Justices Kakru and Saikia are scheduled to retire next year. There is nothing unusual in sending them to their home states at this juncture," said a senior ministry official.