New Delhi: The Gujarat High Court Advocate Association (GHCAA) Monday alleged that the central government had stopped the elevation of Justice A.K. Kureshi as Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court because of his adverse judgments against then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and minister Amit Shah.
The allegations came after the Modi government kept the Supreme Court collegium recommendation to appoint Justice A.K. Kureshi as Madhya Pradesh chief justice pending and picked Justice Ravi Shankar Jha as the acting Chief Justice.
The government order was issued by the Ministry of Law and Justice last week in view of the 9 June retirement of S.K. Seth, former chief justice of the Madhya Pradesh high court.
Justice Kureshi is the senior-most judge of the Gujarat High Court, currently serving in the Bombay High Court.
On Monday, the GHCAA held a general council meeting to seek Justice Kureshi’s appointment and to this end, it sent representations to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
The general council meeting was attended by all members of the association and was headed by advocate Yatin Oza.
Speaking to ThePrint, Oza said it was the orders issued by Justice Kureshi against Home Minister Amit Shah (then minister in Gujarat) and PM Modi that “cost him his elevation” despite being the most senior.
The judge had delivered two major verdicts in the high court in matters pertaining to Modi and Shah between 2010 and 2011.
GHCAA secretary Prithviraj Jadeja told ThePrint that a simple resolution was passed in the meeting that the representation will detail the credibility and merit of Justice Kureshi, to seek his appointment “as the Chief Justice of MP HC immediately”.
Oza, however, clarified that this resolution is not being passed for Justice Kureshi alone. The centre wants to “send a signal loud and clear that judges should be within their bounds”, and that is what we are fighting against, he said.
“This (holding up the appointment) is being done internally. Everything was notified and approved on 22 May. This file is still there with the Ministry of Law and Justice. We had met CJI Gogoi in his residence for 70 minutes and apprised him of the real reason — that was remanding Amit Shah to custody for two days,” Oza told ThePrint.
The lawyer further said that another “mistake” of Justice Kureshi was that he upheld the appointment of Justice R.A. Mehta as Gujarat Lokayukta in 2011.
Last year, confusion prevailed when Justice A.S. Dave, who is junior to Justice Kureshi, was set to be appointed the acting chief justice of the Gujarat High Court. Justice Kureshi was transferred to Bombay High Court at the same time, leading to protests from GHCAA.
It had alleged that Justice Kureshi was being transferred because the Modi government disliked him.
Eventually, Justice Kureshi served as acting chief justice of the Gujarat High Court for a short period, until he assumed his duties at the Bombay High Court in November.
Justice Kureshi started his practice in 1983. He was appointed as an additional judge of the Gujarat High Court in March 2004, and was confirmed as a permanent judge in 2005.