The Supreme Court Collegium has modified its May 10 recommendation to appoint Justice A.A. Kureshi as the Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh after the government sent it to two consecutive letters to reconsider the proposal.
In a resolution dated September 5 and published on September 20 , the Collegium led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has now recommended to the government to appoint Justice Kureshi as the Chief Justice of Tripura High Court. Justice Kureshi is the senior most judge from the Gujarat High Court.
The Collegium resolution does not disclose any reason for the sudden change of mind. It blankly says the modification in its earlier recommendation on Justice Kureshi’s appointment to Madhya Pradesh is based on two communications, dated August 23 and August 27, from the government .
Recently, the Collegium’s transfer of Madras High Court Chief Justice, V.K. Tahilramani , to the Meghalaya High Court had caused a huge public furore. The Collegium was forced to issue a statement that the transfer was based on valid grounds, which could be disclosed if necessary.
The publication of the September 5 resolution on Justice Kureshi comes shortly before a three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice Gogoi is scheduled to hear on September 23 a writ petition filed by Gujarat High Court Advocates Association on the prolonged uncertainty reigning over the fate of Justice Kureshi.
On September 16, during a court hearing of the petition, the CJI informed the court that the Collegium, after considering the government’s communications, had finally taken a decision on Justice Kureshi and would publish it online soon.
The Gujarat lawyers’ association had criticised in open court the unexplained delay from the government in taking a call on Justice Kureshi.
Senior advocate Fali Nariman, for the association, had addressed the court, saying the government should act as a “distinguished communicator” and cannot resort to what seems “deliberate inaction” in a recommendation made by the Supreme Court Collegium as way back as May 10. Mr. Nariman had said the Centre should clarify whether it had even sought a feedback from the Madhya Pradesh government.
The association has alleged that Justice Kureshi’s elevation was singled out for uncertainty while those of other judges, who were recommended along with him, have sailed through.
“The deliberate inaction of the respondent (Centre) in not appointing Mr Justice Akil Kureshi as the Chief Justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court impinges and diminishes the primacy of the judiciary in the matters of appointment and transfer of judges to High Court and Supreme Court,” the petition filed by the association through its president and senior advocate Yatin Oza submitted.
Mr. Oza has said that Justice Kureshi in 2010 ordered current Union Home Minister Amit Shah to be sent to police custody.
It said the May 10 recommendation was made by the Collegium in accordance with the law laid down in the Second Judges Case and Memorandum of Procedure for judicial appointments and transfers. It said the “recommendation is rendered moot by the arbitrary inaction by the respondent in withholding the appointment of Mr Justice Akil Kureshi”.
The association has submitted that the delay in the appointment of the high court judge was violative of Articles 14 and 217 of the Constitution of India and is subversive of the rule of law.
The association said the apex court should issue directions to the government to decide on appointments of High Court chief justices within a period of six weeks from the Collegium’s date of recommendation.