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In a departure from its more than two decades old practice, the Supreme Court has recommended the appointment of Justice Nissar Ahmed Kakru, who hails from Jammu and Kashmir, as the chief justice of the state’s high court.

The apex court move comes even as the government has yet to take a final call on the steps it wants to take as part of the confidence building measures for the trouble-torn Kashmir.

The decision was taken by the Supreme Court collegium, of five senior most judges of the apex court headed by Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, last Thursday.

At present, Justice Kakru is the chief justice of the Andhra Pradesh High Court.

The insiders in the legal fraternity say this departure could not be seen in isolation.

They say the collegium move is an implicit part of the overall initiative, including relaxing of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is planning to take after an all-party meeting Wednesday on handling of the volatile Kashmir situation.

The timing of the development adds credence to the belief that the collegium move was a part of the larger initiative of the prime minister.

The collegium meeting was convened Thursday where the decision was taken to break with the past practice of not allowing a son of the soil from heading the state’s high court.

This meeting, which many say was an emergency meeting, decided that Justice Kakru would be the chief justice of the J&K High Court. Consequently the present incumbent, Justice Aftab Hussain Saikia, would be shifted as the chief justice of the Gauhati High Court.

Justice Saikia belongs to Assam. But his going to the Gauhati High Court was more a consequence to accommodate Justice Kakru as head of the J&K High Court.

Soon after the decision on Justice Kakru was taken, the file recommending his transfer was sent to the union law and justice ministry for implementation and orders by the president.

Justice Kakru was appointed the chief justice of the Andhra Pradesh High Court only in February this year.

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