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After sitting on SC Collegium recommendations for over five months, Union government transfers two judges

The transfers had been recommended by the Supreme Court Collegium on November 24, 2022.

AFTER sitting on the files for a considerable period of time, the Union government on Friday notified the transfer Justice V. M. Velumani from the Madras High Court to the Calcutta High Court, and of Justice Annireddy Abhishek Reddy from the Telangana High Court to the Patna High Court.

On September 29 last year, the Supreme Court Collegium had recommended the transfer of Justice Velumani to the Calcutta High Court. She, however, had sought reconsideration of the recommendation by a letter dated October 14, 2022. Her request was not acceded to by the collegium, which reiterated the recommendation to transfer her on November 24, 2022.

However, she sent another letter to the collegium on March 17 this year, seeking transfer to a high court in the northeastern part of India, preferably the Manipur or Tripura high court, on the ground that she would then be able to retain her official accommodation in Chennai. But the collegium turned down her request via a resolution published on March 28.

There is no valid reason to reconsider the earlier decision of the collegium by which her transfer has been recommended to the Calcutta High Court or to accede to her fresh request. Her request for transfer to either Manipur or Tripura or any high court in the northeastern states is rejected,” the collegium had noted in its resolution.

On November 24 last year, the collegium had also recommended the transfer of Justice Reddy, serving at the Telangana High Court, to the Patna High Court. It took five months for the government to notify the transfer.

The government is yet to give effect to, among several others, the collegium’s recommendation to transfer the Madras High Court’s Acting Chief Justice T. Raja to the Rajasthan High Court. The collegium had originally proposed the transfer of Justice Raja to the Rajasthan High Court on November 16 last year. As per the collegium’s resolution pertaining to this, on November 23 last year, Justice Raja had sought reconsideration of his transfer. The collegium, however, affirmed its decision upon reconsideration the next day.

Last month, the collegium had reiterated its recommendation to transfer Justice Raja to the Rajasthan High Court.

The government is also yet to pay heed to the collegium’s recommendation made last month to appoint Acting Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court, Justice S.V. Gangapurwala, as the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court. The collegium has recommended the elevation of Justice Ramesh D. Dhanuka of the Bombay High Court to the office of Chief Justice of that high court when Justice Gangapurwala is transferred to helm the Madras High Court.

Justice Raja has been serving as Acting Chief Justice of the Madras High Court since September 22 last year, after the previous Chief Justice of the high court, Justice M.N. Bhandari, retired on September 12. Justice Gangapurwala has been serving as Acting Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court since December 12 last year, after the previous Chief Justice, Justice Dipankar Datta got elevated to the Supreme Court and demitted the office on December 11.

On February 3, a Supreme Court Bench headed by Justice S.K. Kaul, who is part of the collegium, had warned the Union government of “unpalatable consequences” if the collegium’s recommendations to transfer high court judges were not given effect in the next ten days. The said unpalatable consequences have not been inflicted.

In February, the Union government had informed the Parliament that as many as ten proposals for the transfer of high court judges from one high court to another were under various stages of processing with the government.