These transfers were recommended by the Supreme Court Collegium in September and November last year.
AS many as ten proposals for the transfer of high court judges from one high court to another are under various stages of processing with the Union government, the Lok Sabha was informed on Friday by the Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju.
The minister added that no timeline has been prescribed in the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) for the transfer of judges from one high court to another. The minister’s reply came days after the Supreme Court warned the government of “unpalatable” consequences if the Supreme Court Collegium’s recommendations to transfer high court judges were not given effect in the next ten days. The bench said it would be forced to take action both at the administrative and the judicial side if the recommendations are not given effect.
On September 28 last year, the collegium had recommended the transfer of Justice Sanjaya Kumar Mishra from the Uttarakhand High Court to the Jharkhand High Court, along with the transfer of Justice K. Vinod Chandran from the Kerala High Court to the Bombay High Court and of Justice Aparesh Kumar Singh from the Jharkhand high court to the Tripura High Court. None of these recommendations have been given effect by the Union government.
Meanwhile, the collegium has now recommended the appointment of Justice Chandran as Chief Justice of the Patna High Court and Justice Singh as Chief Justice of the Tripura High Court.
On September 29 last year, the collegium had recommended the transfer of Justice Vipul Manubhai Pancholi, serving at the Gujarat High Court, to the Patna High Court. However, the government continues to sit over the recommendation.
On November 24, 2022, the collegium had sought the transfer of seven high court judges to other high courts. However, the government is yet to notify their transfers. These are the transfer of Justice V.M. Velumani from the Madras High Court to the Calcutta High Court, of Justice Battu Devanand from the Andhra Pradesh High Court to the Madras High Court, of Justice D. Ramesh from the Andhra Pradesh High Court to the Allahabad High Court, of Justice Lalitha Kanneganti from the Telangana High Court to the Karnataka High Court, of Justice Dr. D. Nagarjun from the Telangana High Court to the Madras High Court; of Justice T. Raja from the Madras High Court to the Rajasthan High Court, and of Justice A. Abhishek Reddy from the Telangana High Court to the Patna High Court.
“As per the existing MoP, the proposal for transfer of High Court Judges is initiated by the Chief Justice of India in consultation with four senior-most puisne Judges of the Supreme Court. The MoP further provides that the Chief Justice of India is also expected to take into account the views of the Chief Justice of High Court from which the judge is to be transferred, as also the Chief Justice of the High Court to which the transfer is to be effected, besides taking into account the views of one or more Supreme Court judges who are in a position to offer views. All transfers are to be made in public interest i.e. for promoting better administration of justice throughout the country. No timeline has been prescribed in the MoP for transfer of judges from one High Court to another“,he said in his reply.
In the Second Judges case, a nine-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court had held that the opinion of the Chief Justice of India not only has primacy, but is also determinative in the matter of transfers of high court chief justices and judges.