The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Transfer flurry after judge row
- HC chief justice shift follows minister missive

New Delhi, Nov. 28: The Supreme Court collegium of judges, headed by Chief Justice of India R.C. Lahoti, has decided to transfer the Chief Justice of Patna High Court, B.K. Roy, to Gauhati High Court.

The move follows law minister Hans Raj Bharadwaj's letter to Lahoti, objecting to Roy's transfer to Patna from Punjab and Haryana High Court. He had cited a policy decision taken in 1983 by the government in consultation with the Chief Justice of India that a high court chief justice cannot be transferred to where he began his practice.

Roy had started his career in Patna High Court.

The collegium also appointed Justice D.K. Jain, the most senior judge of Delhi High Court, the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court, a source said.

Justice Roy's transfer from Punjab and Haryana High Court became imminent after judges went on mass leave ' in the first-ever strike by high court judges ' over in-house notices served on four of them.

Roy had sought an explanation from judges J.S. Singhvi, V.K. Bali, V.M. Jain and Nirmal Singh over their alleged acceptance of free membership in a club facing litigation in the same court.

The four judges were also transferred 'in public interest and for securing better administration of justice in the high courts', the source said. 'These transfers are not punitive nor have anything to do with any incident which may have happened in Punjab and Haryana High Court as is being reported in some newspapers.'

The collegium took a string of transfer decisions, recommending appointment of Justice Rajeev Gupta, the seniormost judge of Madhya Pradesh High Court, as the Chief Justice of Jharkhand High Court.

Justice Altamas Kabir of Calcutta High Court has been nominated Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court. Justice Kabir will replace Justice S.N. Jha, who is being transferred as the Chief Justice of Rajasthan High Court.

Justice A.K. Patnaik of Orissa High Court will take over as Chief Justice of Chhattisgarh High Court after the retirement of Chief Justice A.S.V. Moorthy on January 8 next year.

Some judges, like Justices Amitava Lala and Baran Ghosh of Calcutta High Court and Justices R.B. Mishra and S.K. Agrawal of Allahabad High Court, have represented against their transfers. But the source said the 'representations have been rejected by the collegium' and they will 'have to move on orders of transfer being delivered to them'.

Judge transfers in recent times have often been marred by controversies as in the high court level, even the Chief Justice of India can't take action against judges, who can only be impeached by Parliament.

Retired Chief Justice G.B. Pattanaik had lamented that as CJI he could not take action against a corrupt high court judge. 'Maximum a CJI can do is to ask the judge concerned not to take up any judicial work... What's the use' He will continue to be on leave and draw his salary and perks,' he had said.

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