This was the first meeting of the five-judge collegium since September 26, when it had recommended Bombay high court chief justice Dipankar Dutta’s name to the Centre for appointment as an SC judge. The collegium, also comprising Justices Sanjay K Kaul, S Abdul Nazeer, K M Joseph and M R Shah, agreed to transfer Justice Raja to Rajasthan HC. It also decided to transfer Gujarat HC’s Justice Nikhil S Kariel and Telangana HC’s Justice A Abhishek Reddy to Patna HC. The resolution to this effect is expected to be sent to the Centre in a day or two, sources said.
The collegium, then headed by previous CJI U U Lalit, had made an attempt to hold a meeting on September 30 to recommend the appointment of four judges to the SC – three HC chief justices and a senior advocate. The meeting could not take place.
Transfer of Gujarat, Telangana HC judges sparks lawyer protests
A decision by the Supreme Court collegium to transfer two high court judges, one each from Gujarat and Telangana, upset lawyers in both places. Lawyers of Gujarat HC went on an indefinite strike Thursday following the transfer of Justice Nikhil Kariel to Patna HC, while lawyers in Hyderabad held a demonstration and decided to boycott hearings in protest against the shifting of Justice A Abhishek Reddy to the Bihar capital.
The protesting lawyers of Telangana HC said they saw no reason why a righteous judge was moved out, if not its part of a condemnable “design”. They didn’t explain what could be the “design”.
For its part, the Gujarat HC bar said the transfer of “the finest, honest, upright and unbiased judge” Justice Kariel “strikes at the rule of law and independence of judiciary, the two prime edifices on which our Constitution rests”.
The “indefinite strike” would be reviewed Monday morning, the Gujarat High Court Advocates Association (GHAA) said, while deciding to send a delegation to the Chief Justice of India and other judges of the collegium, and four SC judges elevated from Gujarat HC.
Following the protests, Gujarat HC Chief Justice Aravind Kumar held a meeting with senior lawyers in the afternoon. Minutes later, the lawyers’ association resolved to strike work.
The association’s resolution said: “There shall be protest and strong opposition against such steps and the members of the bar will protest indefinitely till the issue is resolved…”
GHAA postponed the election of its president, scheduled for November 18, and called a protest at the HC gates on Friday morning.
Earlier, in November 2018, GHAA members opposed the SC collegium’s recommendation to transfer Justice Akil Kureshi to Bombay HC. And a year before, it opposed the transfer and promotion policy when Justice Jayant Patel was shifted from Karnataka HC to Allahabad HC.