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CJAR condemns transfer of judge

THE ASIAN AGE. | J VENKATESAN
Published : Sep 28, 2017, 2:19 am IST
Updated : Sep 28, 2017, 2:20 am IST

The transfer comes on the eve of his likely elevation as Chief Justice Karnataka high court.

 It raises deep concern about the independence of the judiciary and suspicions about political interference in judicial appointments
  It raises deep concern about the independence of the judiciary and suspicions about political interference in judicial appointments

New Delhi: The Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) strongly condemns the decision to transfer justice Jayant Patel, senior most judge of the Karnataka high court to Allahabad high court, which led him to resign on September 25.

In a statement CJAR convenor, Prashant Bhushan said that justice Patel tendered his resignation after the Chief Justice of India sought his views on his transfer to Allahabad high court.

The transfer comes on the eve of his likely elevation as Chief Justice Karnataka high court.

Justice Patel was elevated as an additional judge of the Gujarat high court in December 2001 and was confirmed as a permanent in August 2004. Thereafter, he was appointed as the acting Chief Justice of Gujarat high court in 2015 and was sworn in as a judge of Karnataka high court in 2016.  He would have been the third senior-most judge at Allahabad high court on his transfer.

The CJAR said the manner in which the Chief Justice of India has recommended justice Patel’s transfer was unfortunate.

There appears no rational reason since he has already been transferred once and should have been appointment the next Chief Justice of Karnataka as the present incumbent is due to retire on October 9. The transfer is even more inexplicable when considered that Karnataka has less than half the sanctioned strength of judges, and there have been no new appointments. It raises deep concern about the independence of the judiciary and suspicions about political interference in judicial appointments. This is significant, given the politically sensitive cases that justice Patel has supervised in the Gujarat high court.

Calling for strict scrutiny of the collegium system, the CJAR said for appointments to be conducted in an open and transparent manner by the collegium it must be ensured that: eligibility criteria and process for selection/transfer of judges are made public; names of shortlisted candidates are disclosed, along with details of how they satisfy the eligibility criteria, why they were selected over those who were not, and their background details; ·putting in place an appropriate procedure to maintain minutes of all meetings of the collegium; that the minutes of the meetings of the collegium are made public.

Measures to implement these steps need to be taken to uphold the trust that the public places in judiciary especially in a process of judicial appointments which is free from arbitrariness, nepotism or political considerations, the CJAR added.

Mr Bhushan said it is worthwhile recalling Mr Patel who had directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to carry out an investigation into the controversial Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case and monitored the probe into senior intelligence bureau officials. His non-elevation as Chief Justice, indicates how clearly he is being victimised for his courage.

Tags: cjar, ishrat jahan