All three appointments were recommended by the Supreme Court Collegium last month. However, the government is yet to give effect to four other chief justice appointment recommendations made by the collegium last month, due to which two high courts continue to have no permanent chief justices, with another set to follow suit from next month.
THE Union government on Friday notified the appointments of the Chief Justices of the Allahabad, Chhattisgarh and Patna high courts. Three separate notifications to this effect were issued on Friday night by the Union Ministry of Law and Justice. It is, however, yet to appoint chief justices to the Calcutta, Manipur and Himachal Pradesh high courts.
Justice Pritinker Diwaker, who is presently a judge and the acting chief justice at the Allahabad High Court, has been appointed as chief justice of that high court. The Supreme Court Collegium had on February 9 recommended his appointment to this effect.
Justice Diwaker is the senior-most puisne judge at the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad, where he has been serving, on transfer, since October 3, 2018.
Justice Ramesh Sinha, presently also a judge at the Allahabad High Court, has been appointed as chief justice of the Chhattisgarh High Court. He is the second senior-most puisne judge at the Allahabad High Court, and has been functioning there since his elevation on November 21, 2011. He is presently the senior-most judge of the Lucknow bench of the high court.
The Supreme Court Collegium had recommended his appointment as chief justice of the Chhattisgarh High Court on February 9 as well.
Justice K. Vinod Chandran, presently a judge at the Kerala High Court, has been appointed as chief justice of the Patna High Court. The Supreme Court Collegium, on February 7, had recommended his appointment to this effect. Justice Chandran was appointed as a judge to the Kerala High Court on November 8, 2011.
On December 13 last year, the collegium had made the recommendation to the Union government to appoint Justice Chandran as the chief justice of the Gauhati High Court upon the retirement of the incumbent chief justice. However, it did not happen. The government instead notified the appointment of the senior-most judge of the Gauhati High Court, Justice Nongmeikapam Kotiswar Singh, as acting chief justice.
Justice Chandran’s name was also recommended for transfer to the Bombay High Court by the collegium on September 28 last year. Even as this recommendation remained ineffective, the collegium in December last year recommended his elevation as chief justice of the Gauhati High Court.
The government, though, is yet to give effect to the appointment of Bombay High Court judge Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur as chief justice of the Manipur High Court, as recommended by the Supreme Court Collegium on February 9; Calcutta High Court judge T.S. Sivagnanam as chief justice of that high court, as also recommended by the collegium on February 9; Jharkhand High Court judge Justice Aparesh Kumar Singh as chief justice of the Tripura High Court, as recommended by the collegium on February 7; and acting chief justice of the Himachal Pradesh High Court Justice Sabina as chief justice of that high court, as also recommended by the collegium on February 7.
Both the Manipur and Himachal Pradesh high courts continue to be led by acting chief justices. At the Tripura High Court, since the collegium’s recommendation for appointment of Justice A.K. Singh as its chief justice, the Union government has gone on to appoint first Justice Jaswant Singh and then Justice T.A. Goud as chief justice of the high court, thereby rendering the recommendation for Justice A.K. Singh’s elevation nugatory. Notably, Justice Jaswant Singh’s tenure at the helm of the high court’s bench was for less than two weeks.
Regarding the Calcutta High Court, the incumbent chief justice Prakash Shrivastava will be retiring on March 30. If the government does not notify Justice Sivagnanam as chief justice of the high court after the retirement of Justice Shrivastava, Justice Sivagnanam will take over as acting chief justice by virtue of being the senior-most at the high court.
On February 3, the Supreme Court, while hearing a contempt petition over delay in appointment of judges, 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. A bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Abhay S. Oka said that the transfer of judges is a serious issue, more serious than anything else.