The Supreme Court Collegium in a statement on Wednesday recommended the transfer of three senior judges of Delhi, Bombay and Karnataka High Courts.
The decision, taken on February 12, recommended the transfer of Justice S Muralidhar, the third most senior judge of Delhi High Court, to Punjab and Haryana High Court; Justice Ranjit More, fourth most senior judge of Bombay High Court, to Meghalaya High Court; and Justice Ravi Vijaykumar Malimath, the second most senior judge of Karnataka High Court, to Uttarakhand High Court.
The resolution did not indicate reasons for the transfers.
Following their transfer, Justice Muralidhar, Justice More and Justice Malimath will be the second most senior judge in Punjab and Haryana HC, Meghalaya HC and Uttarakhand HC, respectively
Justice More’s transfer to Meghalaya HC has posed a peculiar problem, as the High Court there is already functioning with three permanent judges — its sanctioned strength. The post of an additional judge is vacant there.
Former Delhi High Court Chief Justice A P Shah told The Indian Express: “The Central government has to issue a notification to increase the sanctioned strength of permanent judges (in Meghalaya HC). This is perhaps the first instance that the Collegium has created such a situation. They could have transferred him to any other high court, especially since there are vacancies everywhere.”
Although there is no difference between a permanent judge and additional judge on the judicial side, the posts have different service conditions for administrative purposes.
With Justice More’s transfer, the Collegium has also ensured it has room to appoint a Chief Justice to Bombay HC who is junior to Justice More. More was appointed in 2006 as an additional judge and is set to retire in November 2021.
Appointed on February 18, 2008 as additional judge of Karnataka HC, Justice Malimath retires in May 2024 if not elevated to Supreme Court. He is currently the second most senior judge of Karnataka HC and will continue as the second most senior in Uttarakhand HC if the government approves his transfer.
Uttarakhand HC Chief Justice Ramesh Ranganathan is set to retire in July this year.
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