Centre silent on appointment of Justice A.A. Kureshi

Justice Ravi Shanker Jha made Acting Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh HC

Updated - June 08, 2019 10:32 am IST

Published - June 07, 2019 10:14 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Justice Kureshi

Justice Kureshi

The government on Friday appointed Justice Ravi Shanker Jha as the Acting Chief Justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court even as there is no word from the Centre on a May 10 Supreme Court Collegium recommendation to appoint Justice A.A. Kureshi as the Chief Justice of the High Court.

On May 10, the Collegium led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi recommended Justice Kureshi to the office of the Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh, saying he was the senior most judge from the Gujarat High Court, presently functioning on transfer in the Bombay High Court.

‘Considered view’

The Collegium had told the government in its resolution that Justice Kureshi, in its “considered view”, was “suitable in all respects for being appointed as Chief Justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court” after the retirement of the incumbent Justice S.K. Seth.

However, it seems the file has not impressed the government. In a brief notification, the Department of Justice, Ministry of Law and Justice, invoked Article 223 (appointment of Acting Chief Justice) to appoint Justice Jha.

The Centre reasons that Justice Jha is the “senior most judge of the Madhya Pradesh High Court”. Justice Jha, the notification said, would take over as Acting Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court from June 10, when Justice Seth retires.

Not first time

It is not the first time Justice Kureshi’s appointment has been embroiled in controversy.

When the office of Chief Justice to the Gujarat High Court fell vacant some months back due to the elevation of Justice Subhash Reddy to the Supreme Court, Justice Kureshi, as the then next senior most judge in the Gujarat High Court, was expected to take over the office.

Instead, he was faced with an abrupt transfer to the Bombay High Court and Justice A.S. Dave, the senior most judge after Justice Kureshi, was appointed the Acting Chief Justice — all on the same day.

However, the government had then quickly changed tack to issue a second notification appointing Justice Kureshi as Acting Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court until he took over office in the Bombay High Court. The controversy had raised questions about the way Justice Kureshi was dealt with by the government, and whether this had anything to do with adverse orders passed by him against the ruling dispensation.

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