Centre clears transfer of three high court judges | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Centre clears transfer of three high court judges

Jul 16, 2023 12:01 AM IST

In an order issued by President Droupadi Murmu, the Centre approved the transfer of Allahabad high court’s justice Dinesh Kumar Singh to Kerala HC, Punjab & Haryana high court’s justice Manoj Bajaj to Allahabad HC, and Delhi high court’s justice Gaurang Kanth as judge of Calcutta high court

The Centre has notified the transfer of three high court judges within three days of receiving the final recommendation from the Supreme Court collegium.

The Centre has notified the transfer of three high court judges within three days of receiving the final recommendation from the Supreme Court collegium. (Representational)
The Centre has notified the transfer of three high court judges within three days of receiving the final recommendation from the Supreme Court collegium. (Representational)

In an order issued by President Droupadi Murmu, the central government approved the transfer of Allahabad high court’s justice Dinesh Kumar Singh as judge of Kerala high court, Punjab & Haryana high court’s justice Manoj Bajaj as judge of Allahabad high court, and Delhi high court’s justice Gaurang Kanth as judge of Calcutta high court.

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“In exercise of the power conferred by the Constitution of India, the President of India, after consultation with Chief Justice of India, has transferred the following judges of high courts,” law minister Arjun Ram Meghwal said in a tweet on Saturday, confirming the development.

The three transfers were first recommended by the Supreme Court collegium headed by chief justice Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and comprising four senior-most judges on July 5 and later reiterated on July 12 after the three judges requested the collegium to reconsider the decision. Justice Kanth, who was elevated from the bar as judge of the Delhi high court in May 2022, had requested transfer to a neighbouring high court, preferably Madhya Pradesh or Rajasthan.

A similar request was forwarded to the collegium by justice Dinesh Kumar Singh while justice Manoj Bajaj sought to continue serving at Punjab & Haryana high court. Justice Bajaj practiced before the Punjab & Haryana high court before his elevation as a judge of the same high court on October 29, 2018. His father retired as district and sessions judge in Haryana. As regards justice Singh, he began his practice in the Allahabad high court and later shifted base to the Supreme Court till his elevation as judge of the Allahabad high court in September 2017.

The collegium considered the representations submitted by the three judges and rejected them. The collegium, also comprising justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Sanjiv Khanna, BR Gavai and Surya Kant, gave its thoughtful consideration to its earlier decision and reiterated that the transfers would aid “better administration of justice”.

As per the memorandum of procedure, the collegium is required to consult the chief justices of the high courts of the two high courts involving the transfer. In the present cases, the collegium consulted the high court chief justices and even consulted Supreme Court judges conversant with the affairs of the high courts where the judges were serving.

The decision of the collegium to transfer justice Kanth out of the Delhi high court was objected to by the Delhi high court bar association, which issued a resolution on Thursday, terming the transfer “rarest of rare” and resolving to abstain from work on Monday in protest.

“It is a matter of regret that while no attention is being paid by all concerned regarding the process of filling up of the existing vacancies in the Delhi high court, yet the transfer of sitting judges is being made thereby further reducing the existing strength of judges in the Delhi high court,” the resolution said.

The Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR), a body of lawyers seeking transparency in judicial appointments, on the other hand, welcomed the Collegium decision to transfer justice Kanth out of Delhi high court.

The CJAR claimed that it had opposed the elevation of justice Kanth and after his appointment, a fresh representation was sent to the collegium in August last year, expressing apprehension of bias as there are civil and criminal cases pending against him in the Delhi high court, CJAR said in a statement on Friday. However, it is not clear from the collegium resolution if this factor weighed with it for effecting the transfer.

In addition to the three transfers, the collegium on July 12 also resolved to recommend six names – three each for the high court of Telangana and Himachal Pradesh. It recommended the name of a serving judicial officer in Telangana, Sujana Kalasikam, to be elevated as judge of the Telangana high court. She belongs to the backward classes category. The collegium also recommended elevation of two lawyers – Laxminarayana Alishetty and Anil Kumar Jukanti, as Telangana high court judges.

For Himachal Pradesh high court, the collegium recommended the names of two lawyers – Ranjan Sharma and Bipin Chander Negi, along with judicial officer Rakesh Kainthla, as judges.

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