October 13, 2021 3:15:25 am
Justice Akil Abdulhamid Kureshi on Tuesday took over as the new Chief Justice of the Rajasthan High Court, with Governor Kalraj Mishra administering the oath of office at a ceremony held at Raj Bhawan in Jaipur.
Justice Kureshi was the Chief Justice of Tripura High Court before being transferred to Rajasthan in place of Justice Indrajit Mahanty, who has been posted as Chief Justice of Tripura High Court. Kureshi, who took the oath in English, is the 38th Chief Justice of the Rajasthan High Court.
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Assembly Speaker C P Joshi, Chief Secretary Niranjan Arya, ministers and judges, among others, were present on the occasion.
Justice Kureshi is set to retire in March 2022, at the age of 62, if he not elevated to the Supreme Court, where the age of retirement is 65 years.
Justice Kureshi, whose parent High Court is the Gujarat High Court, was at the centre of a two-year impasse within the Supreme Court collegium over the appointment of judges. Justice Kureshi did not feature in the list of nine appointments made to the Supreme Court in August despite being No. 2 in the all-India list of seniority for judges of High Courts.
Former SC judge Rohinton Nariman, who was part of the collegium, had insisted that Justice Kureshi’s name be recommended before any other. A week after Justice Nariman retired on August 12, the SC collegium sent nine names to the government, which were accepted within two weeks.
Justice Kureshi was born in 1960 in an illustrious Gujarat family. Justice Kureshi’s grandfather Ghulam Rasul Kureshi was known to have been part of the ‘Arun Tukdi’ team whose members would walk the route of the Dandi March ahead of Mahatma Gandhi’s arrival. His father Hamid Kureshi was a senior advocate and a trustee of the Sabarmati Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust.
After graduating in mathematics in 1980 and law in 1983, Justice Kureshi followed in his father’s footsteps. After almost 20 years at the Bar, in 2004, he was appointed Additional Judge of the Gujarat High Court.
As the senior-most judge of the court, he was expected to become Gujarat Chief Justice when the post fell vacant in November 2018. However, Justice A S Dave was named Acting Chief Justice and Kureshi was transferred to the Bombay High Court, where he would be fifth in seniority. Over 1,200 lawyers of the Gujarat High Court Advocates Association launched a strike against the move and petitioned the Supreme Court.
While Justice Kureshi’s transfer to Bombay was stalled, in May 2019, the government sent back the collegium’s recommendation to appoint him as Chief Justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court instead. Finally, in September, the collegium recommended him for the post of Tripura Chief Justice. This meant that from looking at heading a court with 53 judges, Justice Kureshi found himself leading one with just four.
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