Ravi Shankar Prasad refuses to meet Gujarat lawyers over delay in appointing Justice Akil Kureshi as CJ
The Government took 48 hours to notify the appointment of some judges. But appointment of Justice Kureshi has been pending since May
Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had refused to meet a delegation of lawyers from Ahmedabad, Gujarat High Court Advocates Association was informed by the President Yatin Oza.
The Association wanted to seek reasons for the Centre sitting over the appointment of Justice Akil Kureshi as CJ of MP High Court despite the recommendation made by the Supreme Court collegium in May this year. But the Union Minister was not willing to hear them.
Thereafter the Gujarat High Court Advocates Association decided to move the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution of India challenging the delay in notifying the appointment.
Yatin Oza alleged that it was because Justice Kureshi had in the past issued orders against Shah and Modi that he has been denied elevation as the chief justice of MP HC.
Oza said, “The centre wants to send a signal loud and clear that judges should fall in line and that’s what we are fighting against.”
As part of a novel protest, the association has resolved to request the Acting Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court to extend the sitting of all courts for five minutes beyond the official working hours.
The decision to move the SC and lodge a protest was taken following the refusal of Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to meet a delegation of the Gujarat Advocates Association.
The collegium of the Supreme Court had recommended the name of Justice Kureshi on May 10 as CJ of MP High Court after the retirement of Justice S K Seth. However, the Centre sat over the proposal and instead notified the appointment of Justice Ravi Shankar Jha as Acting CJ of MP High Court on June 7.
The Association described the Centre’s “Purposeful holding back the clearance of the file of Justice Kureshi” as “unconstitutional and lacking in bona fide.”
The Association had earlier protested the transfer of Justice Kureshi from Gujarat to the Bombay High Court describing the move as motivated by extraneous considerations.
Gujarat High Court Advocates Association president Yatin Oza alleged that Justice Kureshi fell out of favour of the present dispensation at the Centre because of some of his adverse orders against the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and his home minister Amit Shah.
Justice Kureshi had in 2010 sanctioned CBI custody of Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter killing setting aside the order of a magistrate rejecting the CBI’s plea for remand.
In 2012, Justice Kureshi’s order in the case of appointment of Justice R A Mehta as Gujarat Lokayukta against the wishes of CM Narendra Modi too had embarrassed the BJP government.
Then in May 2018, a bench headed by Justice Kureshi had upheld the conviction of 19 accused in post-Godhra violence in Gujarat in 2002 in which 23 persons including women and children were burnt alive.
While the Centre notified the appointment of Justices Hemant Gupta, MR Shah, Ajay Rastogi and S. Subhash Reddy within 48 hours of the collegium’s recommendation, it has been sitting over other recommendations.
The Centre also notified the appointment of Vishal Mishra, brother of Supreme Court judge Justice Arun Mishra, as judge of the Mp High Court within 10 days of the recommendation; but it has sat over the recommendation for appointing Amit Negi as judge of the Allahabad High Court since December. Similarly, the recommendation to appoint Sandipan Ganguly and P.V. Kunhikrishnan as judges of the Calcutta and Kerala High Courts respectively, have been pending since January and February respectively.