Judiciary Watch: Five HCs get new Chief Justices; 201 collegium recommendations being processed

Five high court judges recently received their warrants for appointment as Chief Justice, as revealed by the Law Ministry website. The high courts of Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Patna and Jharkhand will all be headed by new personnel.

The Kerala High Court’s acting Chief Justice TB Radhakrishnan J will take over as Chief Justice of the Chhattisgarh High Court, whereas Justice Navaniti Prasad Singh of the Patna High Court will replace him at Kerala.

Hemant Gupta J of the Patna High Court – who was reportedly under the ED scanner in relation to a money laundering case – has been cleared to be Chief Justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court. Justice Rajendra Menon will take his place as Chief Justice of the Patna High Court.

Meanwhile, ACJ of the Jharkhand High Court PK Mohanty has been made regular Chief Justice of the same court.

Last month, it was reported that the collegium had recommended nine judges to be Chief Justices of different high courts, but it now appears that the government has signed off on only four of these names.

The other reported recommendations were the Gujarat High Court’s Abhilasha Kumari J, who was recommended for the post of Chief Justice of the Tripura High Court, replacing T Vaiphei J, who was due to be transferred to the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad, and the Delhi High Court’s Badar Durrez Ahmed and Pradeep Nandrajog JJ, who were recommended as Chief Justices of the Jammu and Kashmir and the Rajasthan High Court respectively.

Another recommendation was that of Justice HG Ramesh, who was to take over as Chief Justice of the Madras High Court. However, as reported earlier, Justice Ramesh refused the transfer in protest of Justice Abdul Nazeer’s elevation to the Supreme Court. And now Justice Indira Banerjee from Delhi High Court may be heading to Madras as Chief Justice.

If and when the aforementioned recommendations of the collegium will see the light of day is anybody’s guess. As reportedly revealed in the Rajya Sabha by the Centre, as many as two hundred and one proposals by the collegium for appointment of judges in the high courts are at “various stages of processing”.

As of the end of last month, there remain a total of 437 vacancies across the 24 high courts, while the Supreme Court has three vacancies, after the recent elevation of five judges.