SC pulls up Modi govt for delay in issuing transfer orders of Gujarat judges

The court expressed concern about selective transfers, despite the collegium's approval for transfers, saying it sends a bad signal

The Supreme Court of India chastised attorney-general R Venkataramani for ‘selective' clearing of transfer proposals (photo: IANS)
The Supreme Court of India chastised attorney-general R Venkataramani for ‘selective' clearing of transfer proposals (photo: IANS)

NH Digital

The Supreme Court questioned the Union government on Monday about the delay in notifying the transfer of certain judges, most of them from Gujarat High Court, even though the collegium's recommendation to transfer judges from other high courts had been approved. The case has been adjourned to 5 December.

A bench comprising justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia was hearing a petition filed by the Advocates Association of Bengaluru on 7 November seeking contempt action against the Union ministry of law and justice for not adhering to the timeline set by the apex court in 2021 for clearing collegium proposals. Another writ petition filed by the non-profit Centre for Public Interest Litigation raising the issue of delay in judicial appointments was also listed along with the contempt petition.

During the hearing, the bench chastised attorney-general R Venkataramani for the ‘selective' clearing of transfer proposals of judges and pointed out that the government had issued transfer orders for five judges, but not for the remaining six. Of these, four are from Gujarat, one from Delhi, and another from Allahabad (Prayag Raj) in Uttar Pradesh.

"This does not send a good signal. Don't do selective transfers. It creates its own dynamics. What signal do you send when, of the recommended transfers, four judges from Gujarat have not been transferred at all? What will happen at some stage is that you can't let judges whom we think should not work in a court, continue to work there. This could mean something unpleasant. I hope you understand the consequences,” Justice Kaul said to Venkataramani.

The judge pointed out that of the names recently recommended, eight candidates have not been appointed, though some of them were senior to others whose names have been cleared by the government.

Pulling up the government for its lack of response, Justice Kaul said the union had not sent its response to five names suggested by the Supreme Court collegium. With respect to five others, no step has been taken by the Centre despite the recommendations being reiterated once or more. “I'm flagging these because the timeline has elapsed,” added Justice Kaul.

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