On May 10, the Supreme Court Collegium headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had recommended that Justice A A Kureshi, who is currently the seniormost judge from the parent High Court of Gujarat, be appointed as Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court. The Collegium decision came in the backdrop of the incumbent Chief Justice of the High Court Justice Sanjay Kumar Seth retiring on June 9.
While the Collegium’s recommendation is pending, the government Friday notified that under “the powers conferred by Article 223 of the Constitution of India, the President is pleased to appoint Justice Ravi Shanker Jha, seniormost judge of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, to perform the duties of the office of Chief Justice of that High Court with effect from 10 June, 2019 consequent upon the retirement of Justice Sanjay Kumar Seth, Chief Justice, Madhya Pradesh High Court”.
Three other recommendations were made on May 10, on appointment of Chief Justices in different high courts in the country. Justice D N Patel, a puisne judge from Gujarat High Court was recommended to be elevated as Chief Justice of Delhi High Court. His appointment was cleared by the Centre on May 22.
Justice V Ramasubramanian, the seniormost Judge from Madras High Court, was recommended to be elevated as the Chief Justice Himachal Pradesh High Court. The government is yet to clear his elevation.
Justice R S Chauhan, the seniormost judge in the Rajasthan High Court and who at present is functioning in Telangana High Court as Acting Chief Justice, was recommended by the Collegium to be elevated as Chief Justice of the Telangana High Court. The Centre is yet to clear Justice Chauhan’s elevation.
On Monday, taking over as Law Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, replying to a question on pending appointments to the higher judiciary, had said: “As a Law Minister, I will not be a post office simpliciter. The Law Minister and the Law Ministry has a role as a stakeholder, obviously giving due regard and respect to the Collegium system. But as Law Minister, neither I nor my department will remain a post office. We have a stake and we shall continue to pursue that stake in consultation with the Honourable Supreme Court and Honourable High Courts to expedite the appointments.”
In November last year, the transfer of Justice Kureshi to the Bombay High Court had created a stir in Gujarat High Court with members of the bar observing a strike protesting against his transfer. The Gujarat High Court Advocate Association (GHAA) had passed a resolution that said the association “believes that such a transfer is unjustified and certainly has no connection with better administration of justice” and that it “impinges upon independence of judiciary”.
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