In a rare outburst, Chief Justice TS Thakur yesterday told the Central government that the Court will consider withdrawing judicial work from two judges – Justice Valmiki Mehta of the Delhi High Court and Justice MR Shah of the Gujarat High Court if the transfer of these judges are not given effect to.
According to the Times of India, CJI Thakur said that the recommendation for transfer of the 2 judges was made in February-March this year but, it is yet to be given effect to by the Centre.
“Recommendations for transfer of Justice M R Shah from Gujarat High Court and Justice Valmiki Mehta from Delhi High Court were sent in February and March. These have not been given effect to. If this is the approach of the Union government, then we would have no option but to withdraw judicial work from these transferred Judges”, he reportedly said.
The remark was part of the general dissatisfaction expressed by the court on the delay by the Centre in clearing judicial appointments and transfers; it came about in a PIL filed by one Lt. Col Anil Kabotra concerning delay in judicial appointments.
The Collegium had recommended transfer of Justice Valmiki Mehta from Delhi High Court along with three other judges in February 2016. He was transferred to Hyderabad but this is yet to materialise and Thakur’s remark indeed divulges that the Union government has held up the same.
Justice MR Shah was also in news recently after Senior Advocate of Gujarat High Court, Yatin Oza wrote two scathing letters to the Chief Justice of India alleging that Justice Shah’s transfer was stalled by the executive due to his “proximity to 1, Akbar road New Delhi and 7, Race Course Road New Delhi.”
One of those letters states that his transfer was recommended by a Collegium headed by former Chief Justice HL Dattu though it has not happened till date.
Oza, in his letter, also narrated an incident that happened in the Gujarat High Court. He says that an advocate, who is a BJP functionary, openly stated that the party will protect Justice Shah and he will not be transferred. In Oza’s words,
“I strongly recollect that on 17th February, 2016, one Advocate (content deleted as per footnote 1 ), a senior functionary of Bhartiya Janata Party (B.J.P), in presence of Hundred Advocates, openly, without any fear, boldly made a statement “Let the Collegium recommend transfer 10 times of Hon’ble Justice M. R. Shah, we know how to protect him, because ultimately, we know how to dodge it and frustrate it.” Everybody present there took it so lightly, including myself, and virtually laughed out….I feel that we were fools to take the statement of (content deleted as per footnote 1) so lightly, as we find that he has been proven to be 100% right!”
A contempt case was initiated against Oza by the Gujarat High Court for the same and it was later stayed by the Supreme Court.
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