Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Friday termed the appointment of Justice A S Dave as Acting Chief Justice of
Gujarat High Court as a “mistake”, which has been “corrected” subsequently.
CJI Gogoi on Friday told reporters during an interaction at the Supreme Court Press Lounge, “It was a mistake… Mistakes do happen… It has been corrected by a superseding notification.”
The CJI, accompanied by Justice S A Bobde, said Justice A A Kureshi, whom Justice Dave would have replaced, is the Acting Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court, and “will continue to be so till November 14”.
Friday’s development comes a day after protests from the Gujarat High Court Advocates Association (GHAA), which passed a resolution against Justice Kureshi’s transfer to Bombay High Court. The GHAA went on strike on Friday. In its resolution, the GHAA said the Bar “believes such transfer is unjustified and certainly has no connection with better administration of justice”, and also “impinges upon independence of judiciary”.
Justice Kureshi refused to comment.
On October 29, the Supreme Court Collegium had recommended transfer of Justice Kureshi, the second-most senior judge of Gujarat HC, to Bombay HC. The Collegium also recommended elevation of Gujarat HC Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy as a Supreme Court judge.
This would have made Justice Kureshi the Acting Chief Justice of Gujarat HC, but on Thursday the Centre issued a notification appointing Justice Dave to the post. The government also accepted the recommendation to transfer Justice Kureshi to Bombay HC and asked him to assume charge on or before November 15.
On Friday, the government issued a fresh notification, “in supersession” of the earlier one, and appointed Justice Kureshi to perform duties of Chief Justice of Gujarat HC. The revised notification apparently came after CJI Gogoi took up the matter with the government.
On the government clearing elevation of four new judges – Justices Hemant Gupta, Reddy, M R Shah and Ajay Rastogi – so soon, the CJI said, “The recommendation was sent to government at 11 am Wednesday…in the evening, when I was told the medical had been done, even I was in awe.”
CJI Gogoi, who has been making efforts to reduce the backlog of cases in courts, said the Supreme Court will have 14 benches on Monday and Friday, instead of the current 12, after Diwali holidays.
The apex court now has 28 judges, against a sanctioned strength of 31, after the four judges took oath on Friday. CJI Gogoi, who administered them the oath of office, also said the apex court is looking at the possibility of translating its judgments from English to Hindi and other languages to make things easier for litigants.
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