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Gujarat HC lawyers strike work over transfer of judge who ruled against Modi govt, Shah

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Gujarat High Court lawyers allege Justice Akil Kureshi was being transferred to Bombay High Court because Modi govt ‘disliked him’.

New Delhi: Over 1,200 lawyers practising in the Gujarat High Court went on an indefinite strike Friday in protest against the Supreme Court collegium’s decision to transfer Justice Akil Kureshi.

The Bar has alleged that Kureshi is being transferred from the Gujarat High Court to the Bombay High Court since the Modi government disliked him. The judge had delivered two major verdicts in the high court in matters pertaining to PM Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah between 2010 and 2011.

Kureshi is currently the second most senior judge of the Gujarat High Court. With R. Subhash Reddy, the current chief justice of the Gujarat High Court, elevated to the Supreme Court Thursday night, Kureshi would have been the acting chief justice.

But now, if the government accepts the recommendation for his transfer, Kureshi will take position as the fifth most senior judge of the Bombay High Court.

The Gujarat Bar is planning to move the high court against the SC collegium’s recommendation to prevent the government from acting on it.

‘Fighting for ourselves’

A resolution of the Bar hailed Kureshi as an “honest judge” known for his “integrity, [and] sound legal acumen”.

Kureshi was appointed an additional judge of the high court in 2004 and became a permanent judge in 2005. He has been in the same court since then, rising in seniority over the years. He is likely to retire in 2022.

“The Bar is not fighting for the judge, we are fighting for ourselves,” said a Gujarat High Court advocate Prithviraj Jadeja.


Also read: Hours after SC rap on high court judge appointments, Modi govt clears names


Judge who took on Modi

In 2010, Kureshi set aside a trial court order and granted the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) two-day custody of Amit Shah in the alleged Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case.

In 2011, a bench headed by Kureshi also upheld the then Gujarat governor Kamla Beniwal’s decision to appoint former high court judge R.A. Mehta as the state’s lokayukta. Modi, then the Gujarat chief minister, had opposed Mehta’s appointment.

“Governments have always attempted to punish judges they did not like,” said Yatin Oza, president of the Gujarat Bar Association. “Our grouse is that the collegium is succumbing to it.”

The SC collegium had recommended transferring Kureshi to the Bombay High Court “in the interest of better administration of justice”.

“The collegium has been servile in transferring him,” he added.


Also read: Centre to ignore Khattar, appoint four lawyers as Punjab & Haryana High Court judges


Collegium’s transfer policy

The collegium’s policy of transferring high court judges without assigning reasons has frequently been criticised by legal experts. Usually, judges are transferred from one high court to another when allegations surface against them.

Former Supreme Court judge J. Chelameswar had also called for a larger debate on the transfer policy for chief justices of high courts.

“High court chief justices are transferred frequently as there is a fear that they could be influenced by the local clout and build empires,” he had said. “If that’s the argument, then why not have non-native chief ministers?”

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1 COMMENT

  1. Prof PK Sharma,Freelance Journalist,Barnala (Punjab)

    If Mr.Yatin Oza President of Gujarat Bar Association and the Bar Association are to be believed for feeling concerned and agitated over
    the transfer of Gujarat High Court Judge Justice Akil Kureshi the Supreme Court Collegium should review its decision in the best interests of Gujarat High Court and Justice Delivery System in the state !

    Rising above the prestige issue factor, if the cancellation of Justice Kureshi’s transfer serves the purpose of restoration of finer spirit and atmosphere in the Gujarat High Court and its Bar Association,then the Hon’ble Supreme Court Collegium should mend its earlier decision of transferring Justice Kureshi !

    Prof PK Sharma, Freelance Journalist
    Pom Anm Nest,Barnala (Punjab )

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