SC Starts Major Rejig of High Courts
4 HC judges get letters from SC collegium, 5 more judges’ transfer under consideration
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