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At least 200 judges of Telangana went on mass casual leave for 15 days starting Tuesday as the agitation demanding cancellation of the provisional list of judicial officers appointed in Telangana judiciary took a serious turn. For the first time, scenes of judges in their robes protesting outside courts were witnessed today morning while outside the High Court some protesting judges were physically lifted and evacuated by police.
Telangana judges are demanding that the 130 judges appointed recently to various courts in Telangana be recalled as they are natives of Andhra Pradesh, and therefore their appointment was blatantly illegal and against the rules stated in the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014. These 130 judicial officers had opted to work in Telangana and were thus posted here by the high court.
Telangana judges say that the High Court did not follow guidelines of allocating in 40:60 ratio between Telangana and AP, as per the population and guidelines under the AP Reorganisation Act 2014. The Telangana Judicial Officers Association even alleges that the 18 high court judges hailing from AP influenced the HC’s decision to allocate persons hailing from AP to Telangana judiciary. Of the 21 judges in HC, 18 are from AP and only 3 are from Telangana.
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The protest also brought to the fore again the issue of bifurcation of the high ourt and establishing separate HCs for Telangana and AP. Although, the state has been bifurcated and new state of Telangana created, the High Court has not been divided and continues to be one which means that judicial officers can be posted anywhere in AP or Telangana.
Telangana judges are saying that as the high court is yet to be divided, the HC should have informed the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) while allocating judges so that they could have been posted according to their nativity.
“HC should have communicated with DoPT and Union Law Minister on this issue instead of arbitrarily posting people from AP in Telangana judiciary,” one of the suspended judges said Tuesday.
In recent weeks, at least 900 judicial officers who were working in various courts in united AP were divided between the two states. In the first week of May one provisional list of allotment of judges to lower courts was issued. As per the list, 335 judicial officers were allotted to Telangana while 495 were allocated to AP. However, of the 335 judicial officers allocated to Telangana, at least 130 are natives of AP who opted to work in Telangana, according to the Telangana Judicial Officers Association. The Association points out that currently 234 district judges are serving in both the states and they needed to allocated according to 40:60 ratio.
“Accordingly, 94 judges should have been allocated to Telangana and 140 to AP. However, the HC allocated only 84 district judges to AP and left 46 vacancies while appointing 102 district judges instead of 94. Of the 102 district judges allocated to Telangana, 72 are from AP and only 30 are from Telangana. All this was influenced by judges in the HC,” one judicial officer said.
The protest against this provisional allocation soon turned to agitation for a separate high court for Telangana.
“It is more than two years now; we have a separate state but we are without a high court. The Centre had advised the CMs of Telangana and AP to discuss and allocate separate buildings for establishing separate HCs but while Telangana is ready to allocate separate building for AP High Court, AP CM N Chandrababu Naidu has not made any move yet,” says president of Telangana Advocate Joint Action Committee T Sriranga Rao. Officials in AP say that space for AP HC has been allocated at Amaravati alongside the capital buildings, and it would be established soon.
T Sriranga Rao and others met Union Law Minister D V Sadananda Goud and Secretary (Personnel) DoPT Sanjay Kothari to discuss the issue. Goud assured the delegation that he would speak with acting Chief Justice Dilip P Bhosale to sort of the issue.
Eleven judges—district, senior civil, and junior civil—have been suspended so far for protesting after acting Chief Justice Dilip P Bhosale took a very serious view of the conduct of the judges and their violation of the code. Those suspended include Telangana Judicial Officers Association president K Ravinder Reddy, IV Metropolitan Magistrate at Nampally Criminal Courts, and general secretary G Varaprasad, Additional Civil Judge at Ranga Reddy courts.