Judiciary Watch: KM Joseph CJ transferred, 32 new judges & more

As many as 32 judges have been appointed in six different high courts across the country, with effect from last month. A majority of these have been appointed as additional judges as per Article 224 of the Constitution.

Apart from these, the Himachal Pradesh High Court saw the appointment of two permanent judges – VS Thakur and AM Goel JJ. – from the Bar.

Last month also saw the retirement of 6 judges from various high courts; Chief Justice of the Rajasthan High Court SK Mittal was one of them. Ajay Rastogi J. will now take over as Acting Chief Justice.

To top off another busy month for the Supreme Court collegium, 12 judges have been transferred from one high court to another.

The most controversial of these is the transfer of Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice KM Joseph, following his recent judgment striking down President’s rule in the state. He will now serve as a judge at the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad.

Another seemingly strange transfer is that of Justice Abhay Thipsay, of the Bombay High Court to Allahabad, especially since he has less than a year before his retirement in March.

The other transfer from the Bombay High Court is that of AB Chaudhuri J., who will now serve at the Punjab & Haryana High Court. SS Kernkar J. comes in from the Madhya Pradesh High Court.

The Delhi High Court lost another judge in SK Kait J., who has also been transferred to the High Court of AP and Telangana.

Two judges of the Madras High Court – R Sudhakar and V Ramasubramanian JJ. – were transferred to the Jammu & Kashmir and the AP High Courts respectively. N Rama Rao J. comes to the Madras High Court from the AP High Court.

A woman judge, Justice Sabina has been transferred from the Punjab & Haryana High Court to Rajasthan, from where Vineet Kothari J. will be transferred to the Karnataka High Court.

From the Gujarat High Court, an additional judge, KJ Thaker J., was transferred to the Allahabad High Court. Justice PK Mohanty has been transferred from the Orissa High Court to the Jharkhand High Court.

And there will likely be more transfers in the coming weeks. According to this report, Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court, SK Mukherjee J. is likely to replace KM Joseph J. as Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court. In effect, Justice N Kumar, the second most senior judge of the Karnataka High Court, will serve as Acting Chief Justice.

Further, Acting Chief Justice of the AP High Court, Justice D B Bhosale, has been reportedly recommended for the post of Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court in place of Justice DY Chandrachud, who was recently recommended for elevation to the Supreme Court.

In the midst of these appointments and transfers, the Kerala High Court increased its working strength from 38 to 47. The number of vacancies across the 24 high courts seems to be steadily decreasing; it is down from 462 at the beginning of last month to 433 as of May 1.

And it appears that the six vacancies in the Supreme Court will soon be filled. The collegium has reportedly recommended four names for elevation to the apex court.

Below is the list of newly appointed additional judges:

Additional_judges