A group of eminent lawyers has written to the Chief Justice of India T S Thakur and the Supreme Court Collegium, seeking a review of its decision to transfer Delhi High Court Judge Rajiv Shakdher to Madras
In their letter, lawyers such as former Attorney General for India Soli Sorabjee, jurists Fali Nariman and K K Venugopal and others said the transfer of Justice Shakdher by the collegium, headed by the CJI, had “really shocked” members of the Bar.
When contacted, Sorabjee said, “We think this needs to be reconsidered to prevent a wrong from being committed. That is why we have written (the letter).”
Incidentally, Justice Shakdher had set aside last March the Centre’s lookout notice against Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai, a notice that had led her to being offloaded from a London-bound flight.
Pillai was on her way to speak on the alleged violation of forest rights of tribals in Madhya Pradesh’s Mahan coal block area but was told that her name was on a database of those not allowed to leave the country.
The Centre had argued in court that Pillai’s speech before a group of UK parliamentarians would have created a “negative image” of India and claimed that she was involved in “anti-national activities”.
Justice Shakdher was among four judges transferred by the collegium.
In their letter, the senior lawyers stated that the High Court of Delhi “has been one of the most outstanding High Courts in the country, especially because of the talented young Judges”, many of whom, including Justice Shakdher, had given up their lucrative practice.
The lawyers said that the Bar found Justice Shakdher to be an “outstanding Judge” and that he was known for his “independent and forthright judgments”.
“We had been looking forward with great anticipation to the promises held out in the NJAC judgment in regard to the principles, particularly the principle of transparency, which would govern future appointments to the higher judiciary as well as on the very sensitive issue of transfer of judges. We are disappointed by the lack of transparency in this case,” the letter states.
“Taking the consent of a judge before he is transferred is another important principle that should be followed before making transfers. We are under the impression that neither requirement has been met in this case,” it states.
One of the other senior lawyers who signed the letter told The Indian Express: “His transfer is a matter of great regret, especially because of the enthusiasm with which the Bar was looking forward to the new dispensation, which has been dampened by a transfer that many of us believe may not be doing justice to the excellent reputation that the Judge in question has built up. His transfer may act as a deterrent to young and promising lawyers who otherwise would be prepared to give up a very lucrative practice for serving the country by accepting Judgeship at personal and financial loss to them.”