Judgements, Favours, Elevation, Revenge, Politics and Indian Judiciary

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Staff Writer, TLR

Published on July 14, 2023, 17:41:00


Nomination , Retirement

From Rajya Sabha nomination to political appointments post-retirement; from favouritism to palpable revenge of sorts for adherence to the constitutional oath of office; a lot of water has flown under the bridge in the past five years. Is the constitutional status and the reverence of the judiciary being politically manipulated? Do some bear the brunt just because they did the right thing in the line of their duty? These and many more questions are left to ponder as one incident preceding the other raises many eyebrows. The latest being the list of judges elevated to the Supreme Court of India.
Has, sending incumbent Home Minister Amit Shah to CBI custody in a case eleven years ago, costed Justice Kureshi a little too heavily on his judicial career?
Justice Akil Abdulhamid Kureshi, one of the senior-most High Court chief justices in the country has been overlooked as his name does not figure in the list of nine judges and chief justices of various High Courts for the elevation to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court collegiums headed by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana had cleared the names on Wednesday and Justice Kureshi not making it to the list has left eyebrows raised.
What is worthy of being recalled here is that Justice Kureshi had remanded Amit Shah, now the Union Home Minister to CBI custody in 2010 in connection to the death of gangster Sohrabuddin Sheikh in an encounter.
The list has been cleared merely a few days after Justice RF Nariman, the third senior-most member of the SC collegiums retired. It is said that Justice Nariman insisted that Justice Kureshi should be elevated to the Apex Court and this stand of Justice Nariman caused a rift within the collegiums on the issue of elevation of judges to the Supreme Court over the last several months.
Soon after Nariman’s retirement, the five-member collegiums cleared nine names, omitting Justice Kureshi, who will retire on March 6, 2022.
Not the first time
This is not the first time that Justice Kureshi’s career is embroiled in controversy. In 2019, the collegiums comprising the then CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Justice SA Bobde and NV Ramana recommended to the Centre to elevate Justice Kureshi, (who was then the senior-most judge from the Gujarat high court) as the Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court. The collegiums had recommended three other names for recommendation and surprisingly, the Centre went ahead with the three recommendations and only in the case of Justice Kureshi, it asked the collegiums to reconsider its recommendation. The Centre has instead notified the appointment of Justice Ravi Shanker Jha as acting chief justice.
The issue was later cleared when the collegium, headed by then CJI Ranjan Gogoi decided to shift Justice Kureshi to Tripura High Court.
Before this incident, the Centre had ignored Justice Kureshi, when the post of acting Chief Justice in the Gujarat High Court fell vacant. Kureshi, who was the senior-most judge then, was transferred to Bombay High Court.
The Centre also stated that Justice Anantkumar S Dave, the second senior-most judge in the Gujarat High Court will continue as the acting chief justice until a chief justice is appointed. Only after interference from the Apex Court that Kureshi was allowed to function as the acting chief justice till November 14, after which he took oath as a judge of the Bombay High Court.
Though there are no rules in place that a senior-most judge or chief justice of a high court should be elevated to the Apex Court, it is a well-practised tradition where seniority has been given priority. Going by this, it is noted that most of the elevated chief justices and judges are junior to Justice Kureshi.
There are questions galore. But whom do we look towards for answers…??