The Centre on Saturday notified the transfer of Justice Akil Kureshi, Chief Justice of the Tripura High Court, who was at the centre of a two-year impasse within the Supreme Court collegium over the appointment of judges, as the Chief Justice of the Rajasthan High Court. Moreover, eight judges were on Saturday elevated as chief justices of various high courts.
The Indian Express had earlier reported that the decision to transfer Justice Kureshi to a “bigger high court” was one of the several decisions taken by the collegium meeting last month.
Justice Kureshi, whose parent high court is the Gujarat High Court, did not feature in the list of nine recent appointments made to the Supreme Court in August despite being No. 2 in the All-India List of seniority for judges of high courts.
The collegium’s hesitation in recommending his name had led to an unprecedented impasse over the appointments, that lasted for nearly two years. Former SC judge Rohinton Nariman, who was part of the collegium had insisted that Justice Kureshi’s name be recommended before any other name was recommended, retired on August 12. A week after his retirement, the SC collegium sent 9 names to the government, which were accepted within two weeks.
Justice Kureshi was appointed the Chief Justice of Tripura High Court on November 16, 2019 and his tenure ends on March 6, 2022, if not elevated to the Supreme Court.
During his time in the High Court, Justice Kureshi gave two important verdicts which were an embarrassment to the then Narendra Modi government in the state. In 2010, he set aside a trial court order and granted the CBI two-day custody of then Gujarat Home Minister and now Union Home Minister Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case. (In 2014, Shah was cleared in the case by a Special CBI Court.)
In 2011, a Bench headed by Justice Kureshi upheld the then Gujarat governor Kamla Beniwal’s decision to appoint former high court judge R A Mehta as the state’s Lokayukta. It had been opposed by CM Modi.
Justice Kureshi was expected to become Gujarat Chief Justice when the post fell vacant in November 2018, as the senior-most judge of the court. However, Justice A S Dave was named Acting Chief Justice and Justice Kureshi was transferred to the Bombay High Court, where he would be fifth in seniority.
Meanwhile, Justice Indrajit Mahanty, heading the Rajasthan High Court has been posted as chief justice of the Tripura High Court.
Moreover, Justice Mohammed Rafiq, heading the Madhya Pradesh High Court has been sent to Himachal Pradesh High Court as its new chief justice.
Justice Biswanath Somadder heading the Meghalaya High Court has been posted as chief justice of the Sikkim High Court. Justice A K Goswami, heading the Andhra Pradesh High Court has been sent to head the Chhattisgarh High Court.
Eight judges were also elevated as chief justices of various high courts.
Justice Rajesh Bindal, acting chief justice of the Calcutta High Court, was elevated as chief justice of the Allahabad High Court. Justice Ranjit V More of Meghalaya was made chief justice of the same high court, according to a list published by the Department of Justice in the Law Ministry.
Acting chief justice of the Karnataka High Court, Justice Satish Chandra Sharma has been elevated as chief justice of the Telangana High Court.
Justice Prakash Shrivastava of the Madhya Pradesh High Court has beeb made chief justice of the Calcutta High Court.
Acting chief justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court Justice R V Malimath will now head the Madhya Pradesh High Court.
Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi of the Allahabad High Court will head the Karnataka High Court. Similarly, Justice Arvind Kumar of the Karnataka High Court had been elevated as chief justice of the Gujarat High Court.
Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra of the Chhattisgarh High Court has been made chief justice of the Andhra Pradesh High Court.
(With inputs from ENS & PTI)