Appointments, transfers pivotal to justice system; interference doesn’t augur well: Supreme Court

Appointment and transfer of judges form “the root of the administration of justice” and interference in that “does not augur well” for the institution, the Supreme Court said on Monday.

It made the observation while deciding to keep the Gujarat High Court Advocate Association’s plea pending which has sought a direction to the Centre to implement the Supreme Court Collegium’s recommendations on the transfer of Bombay High Court judge Justice Akil Kureshi.

The Collegium, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi, had recommended to the Centre to appoint justice Kureshi as the Chief Justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court.

It later recommended that Justice Kureshi be appointed as the Chief Justice of the Tripura High Court.

“Appointments and transfers go to the root of the administration of justice and where judicial review is severely restricted. Interference in system of administration of justice does not augur well for the institution,” the apex court said while keeping the plea of bar body pending.

A bench comprising the Chief Justice and justices S A Bobde and S A Nazeer was told by senior advocate Arvind Datar, appearing for the GHCAA, that its plea be kept pending till the central government implements the Collegium’s recent recommendations of appointing Justice Kureshi as Chief Justice of the Tripura High Court.

The bench agreed to the submissions of the GHCAA and fixed the matter for further hearing after the Centre takes a call on its decision.

The modified recommendation to send Justice Kureshi to Tripura High Court was uploaded on the apex court’s website late Friday evening and it said that the concerned decision was taken in the Collegium’s meeting held on September 5.

Appointment of Justice Kureshi as chief justice of the Madhya Pradesh high court was recommended by the collegium on May 10 this year.

The GHCAA plea has claimed that the Centre did not clear the file for appointment of Justice Kureshi and on June 7 came out with a notification appointing Justice Ravi Shanker Jha as acting chief justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court.

The association has contended that the reluctance of the Centre to appoint Justice Kureshi as chief justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court is against the procedure laid down in the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) and amounts to a violation of Articles 14 and 217 of the Constitution.

It has further said the inaction on the part of the Centre is an attack on the independence of the judiciary and diminishes the primacy of the judiciary in the matters of appointment and transfer of judges to the high courts and the Supreme Court.

GHCAA president Yatin Oza had reportedly said that Justice Kureshi was being singled out for an order passed by him in 2010, remanding current Union Home Minister Amit Shah in police custody.

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