Justice Akil Kureshi on Sunday denied speculation that he had resigned from judicial services following a decision of the Supreme Court Collegium to appoint him as Chief Justice of Tripura High Court instead of Madhya Pradesh as decided earlier.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Justice Kureshi made it clear that he had not resigned, but refused to take further questions.
The Collegium, comprising Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S A Bobde and N V Ramana, decided to recommend Justice Kureshi as Chief Justice of Tripura High Court on September 5.
It was a departure from an earlier decision of the Collegium on May 10 when it had recommended that Justice Kureshi be appointed as Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court.
However, the government referred the proposal back to the CJI with “accompanying material”. After considering those communications, the Collegium decided to reiterate its earlier recommendation with a modification that Justice Kureshi be appointed Chief Justice of Tripura High Court.
Following the decision, speculation regarding Justice Kureshi’s resignation from judicial services started doing the rounds.
With the Centre delaying the elevation of Justice Kureshi as Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court despite the Collegium’s recommendation, Gujarat High Court Advocates’ Association had moved the Supreme Court. Justice Kureshi was earlier attached to Gujarat High Court and is currently a judge at Bombay High Court.
President of Gujarat High Court Advocates’ Association, Yatin Oza, expressed disappointment over the Collegium’s latest recommendation to appoint Justice Kureshi as Chief Justice of Tripura High Court. He termed this “abject surrender” and said the Collegium should have reiterated its earlier decision of recommending Justice Kureshi as Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court.
Oza said that they would raise the issue when the apex court hears their petition on Monday. He alleged that “signals” are being sent to judges that if they give orders “unfavourable” to ruling party, it will have consequences.
Among many rulings of Justice Kureshi at Gujarat High Court is an order to send Amit Shah (now Union Home Minister) to a two-day police remand in connection with the Sohrabuddin Shaikh encounter case. Shah was later discharged from the case.
When Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court Justice Subhash Reddy was elevated to Supreme Court last October, Justice Kureshi was the seniormost judge in the High Court. The Collegium, however, recommended his transfer to Bombay High Court.
Following the transfer order, the advocates’ association had called for a strike. In the resolution, the association had said, “The bar, upon detailed deliberation in its meeting held on November 1, 2018, unanimously finds no reason to justify his transfer from being seniormost puisne judge of Gujarat High Court to number five judge in the Bombay High Court ostensibly in the interest of better administration of justice.”
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