SC Starts Ma­jor Re­jig of High Courts

4 HC judges get letters from SC col­legium, 5 more judges’ trans­fer un­der con­sid­er­a­tion

The Economic Times - - Front Page - RAGHAV OHRI

In what high­est ju­di­cial cir­cles are view­ing as a “sud­den” and “rare” move, the Supreme Court col­legium, headed by Chief Jus­tice of In­dia RM Lodha, has de­cided in prin­ci­ple to trans­fer as many as four se­nior high court judges, while trans­fer of five more se­nior judges is un- der ac­tive con­sid­er­a­tion. Se­nior high court of­fi­cials around the coun­try who are fa­mil­iar with this de­vel­op­ment told ET that four judges have re­ceived what are called ‘con­sent-seek­ing letters’ from the CJI. These of­fi­cials spoke to ET on the con­di­tion that they are not iden­ti­fied.

Among the judges whose trans­fer has al­ready been de­cided in prin­ci­ple is the chief jus­tice of Pun­jab and Haryana High court San­jay Kis­han Kaul. His likely next remit will be as chief jus­tice of the Madras High Court. Kaul, one of the se­nior­most judges in the coun­try, is a likely fu­ture Supreme Court judge. A se­nior high court judge told ET that while the trans­fers are “sud­den and rare”, they could be due to ad­min­is­tra­tive rea­sons keep­ing in view pro­mo­tion of judges and va­can­cies. This judge spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymity. The judge said “seek­ing con­sent of a judge” is a “pro­ce­dural for­mal­ity”. “If the judge con­cerned has a reser­va­tion on his trans­fer, he can write back to the CJI and con­vey the same. How­ever, the fi­nal de­ci­sion vests with the Supreme Court,” he said. Jus­tice Kaul, if he takes charge as chief of the Madras High Court, will re­place Jus­tice Satish K Ag­ni­hotri, who is the act­ing chief jus­tice there. ET has learnt Kaul will be re­placed by Jus­tice KL Man­ju­nath of the Kar­nataka High Court, who is the first puisne judge – a le­gal term for the se­nior-most judge af­ter the Chief Jus­tice in a high court – of the Kar­nataka High Court. Hav­ing prac­ticed in the Kar­nataka High Court, Jus­tice Man­ju­nath was ap­pointed as an Additional Judge on De­cem­ber 11, 2000, and made a per­ma­nent Judge on Oc­to­ber 27, 2001.

Jus­tice Jas­bir Singh, who is the first puisne Judge of the Pun­jab and Haryana High court, is likely to be trans­ferred to Ra­jasthan.

Also, Jus­tice Ashutosh Mo­hunta of Andhra Pradesh High Court is likely to re­turn to Pun­jab and Haryana High Court as the se­nior-most judge af­ter the chief jus­tice. In Septem­ber, 2010, Jus­tice Mo­hunta was trans­ferred from the Pun­jab and Haryana High Court.

Among those who could be trans­ferred are the Chief Jus­tice of Ker­ala High Court Man­jula Chel­lur, who might move to the Cal­cutta High Court. Ker­ala High Court’s first puisne judge, Jus­tice KM Joseph, is likely to be trans­ferred to Ut­tarak­hand High Court.

The first puisne Judge of Patna High Court, Jus­tice Navin Sinha, is be­ing con­sid­ered for trans­fer to the Ch­hat­tis­garh High Court. The first puisne Judge of Ch­hat­tis­garh High Court, Jus­tice Sunil Sinha could be trans­ferred to the Sikkim High Court.

Chief Jus­tice of Ra­jasthan High Court, Jus­tice Ami­tava Roy, could be trans­ferred to Orissa High Court. The cur­rent Chief Jus­tice of Orissa High Court, Jus­tice Adarsh Ku­mar Goel, was el­e­vated to the Supreme Court last week .

San­jay Kis­han Kaul, one of the se­nior-most judges in the coun­try, is a likely fu­ture Supreme Court judge

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