New Delhi: Tripura High Court Chief Justice Akil Kureshi, who was overlooked by the Supreme Court collegium last month when it elevated nine high court judges to the top court, is likely to become the chief justice of the Rajasthan High Court, ThePrint has learnt.
Sources in the Supreme Court told ThePrint that Justice Kureshi is among the five chief justices who are likely to be transferred to head new high courts.
“The collegium led by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana held deliberations this week over the transfers. The decision is, however, not yet finalised and, therefore, the resolution has not been made public,” one of the sources said.
Another source added that the collegium has also finalised names of eight new chief justices during the final meeting held Thursday. Besides, it has also cleared the transfer of 28 HC judges.
It is to be seen whether the Centre will accept the collegium’s recommendation on Justice Kureshi, given that in the past it had opposed his appointment as the chief justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court. Justice Kureshi’s parent HC is Gujarat.
Kureshi, who in 2010 had sent Amit Shah, now the Union Home Minister, to police custody for his alleged involvement in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case, was appointed the Chief Justice of Tripura High Court on 16 November 2019.
The Supreme Court collegium had on 5 September 2019 proposed his name for this post while he was a Gujarat High Court judge.
But along with that, it had recalled its May 2019 resolution, recommending Justice Kureshi as the chief justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court, which has 40 judges.
This was done after the central government objected to Justice Kureshi’s nomination as the head of the Madhya Pradesh High Court — a larger high court compared to Tripura, which has five judges.
It is believed Justice Kureshi’s appointment to the top court was one of the reasons for the impasse between the collegium members when the then CJI S.A. Bobde was heading it. The collegium’s 21 August resolution on the elevation of nine HC judges came a little over a week after Justice Nariman retired.
Sitting Chief Justice of Rajasthan Justice Indrajit Mohanty is expected to replace Justice Kureshi in Tripura. Justice Mohanty is due to retire in November this year.
The other likely transfers include Justice Arup Kumar Goswami from Andhra Pradesh to Chhattisgarh, Justice Mohammad Rafiq from Madhya Pradesh to Himachal Pradesh, and Justice Biswanath Somadder from Meghalaya to Sikkim.
While Justice Kureshi is likely to take over as head of Rajasthan HC, acting chief justice of Calcutta High Court, Justice Rajesh Bindal is expected to head the bigger Allahabad High Court as chief justice. Justice Bindal and seven more judges are likely to be appointed as new chief justices to eight HCs.
A judge of the Punjab and Haryana HC, Justice Bindal was an acting Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir HC prior to moving to Calcutta in April this year. He was, however, never confirmed as the chief justice of the HC, despite the fact that Calcutta is not his parent HC.
According to the norm, a judge is never nominated as the chief justice of his or her parent HC. However, in the absence or non-appointment of a regular chief justice, the senior-most judge of the HC is appointed as the acting chief justice.
Administrative decisions by Justice Bindal, particularly the way he listed CBI’s appeal against bail granted to Trinamool Congress leaders accused in the Narada scam, courted controversy, with his colleagues questioning him over the manner in which matters were being marked. They claimed his decisions violated the Calcutta HC rules.
The other seven new chief justices are expected to be: Justice Prashan Kumar Mishra for Andhra Pradesh HC, Justice Prakash Srivastava for Calcutta; Justice Aravind Kumar for Gujarat; Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi for Karnataka; Justice RV Malimath for Madhya Pradesh; Justice Ranjit V More for Meghalaya and Justice Satish Chandra Sharma for Telangana.
(Edited by Neha Mahajan)