The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Registrar General of the Gauhati High Court to consider a plea of a litigant seeking transfer of his case from the Tripura High Court.
The direction assumed significance as the Tripura High Court at Agartala has only three serving judges including the Chief Justice against the sanctioned strength of four and in the event of recusal either by a single judge bench or by a division bench it becomes impossible that the matter can be heard at the same high court.
A bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud asked the Registrar General of the Gauhati High Court to consider and decide the plea of Mrinal Kanti Datta that his case be transferred from Tripura. “In case such an application has been filed by Datta, we hope and expect that the Registrar General of Gauhati High Court will take a decision on the transfer of proceedings in the case from Tripura High Court to the Gauhati High Court,” the bench said.
Earlier, the apex court had considered the letter of Justice T Vaiphei, the Chief Justice of the Tripura High Court, on constitutional crisis which crops up time and again due to recusals and lack of judges at the bench. The apex court had asked the Centre to explore the possibility of using Article 224 A of the Constitution on appointment of judges of other high courts as sitting judges to address the issue of recusal.
Chief Justice Vaiphei, in his letter to the Chief Justice of India, had said that due to shortage of judges, it became difficult to set up a separate bench if a judge recused himself from hearing a particular case on grounds of conflict of interest. There are at least 26 cases in which recusal has been sought by the judges at the Tripura High Court at Agartala, which was established on March 23, 2013.
Article 224-A of Constitution says “…the Chief Justice of a high court for any state may at any time, with the previous consent of the President, request any person who has held the office of a judge of that court or of any other high court to sit and act as a judge of the high court for that state.”
The government, however, had disagreed and said a judge appointed at one high court cannot go to another and suggested that a judge should be transferred from an adjoining high court to the Tripura High Court to address the unique problem.