Why Guj Bar Assoc Has Taken the Fight for Judge Kureshi to the SC

Senior advocates say the Centre is violating the usual procedure of promotion that respects judicial seniority.

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Why Guj Bar Assoc Has Taken the Fight for Judge Kureshi to the SC
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While the Centre continues to ignore the Supreme Court Collegium’s recommendation to appoint Justice Akil Abdulhamid Kureshi as Chief Justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, the judge has the support of the Gujarat High Court Advocates’ Association (GHCAA), which has challenged the central government’s inaction.

The GHCAA filed a petition before the Supreme Court on 3 July, and requested the apex court to issue a directive to the central government to implement the SC Collegium’s resolution passed on 10 May this year, to appoint Justice Kureshi (currently a judge at the Bombay High Court) as Chief Justice of the MP High Court (MP HC). 

Judges are appointed by a five-member collegium, consisting of the Chief Justice of India and the four most senior judges of the Supreme Court.


Incidentally, on 22 May this year, the Centre issued 12 notifications appointing judges to various high courts and the Supreme Court; however, no notification was issued with regards to Justice Kureshi’s appointment to the MP HC.

The Centre appointed Justice DN Patel as Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court. Justice Patel who is originally from Gujarat High Court and was serving at the Jharkhand High Court. Similarly, Justice RS Chauhan, a senior judge from the Rajasthan High Court and currently serving as a judge of the Telangana High Court, had been recommended for appointment as the Chief Justice of Telangana High Court. He was sworn in on 22 June.

The president of the GHCAA, senior advocate Yatin Oza, told The Quint that he believes this is a vendetta perpetrated by the BJP top brass at the behest of Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The first hearing on the matter will be held on Monday, 15 July.

Why Is Justice Kureshi in Shah & Modi’s Crosshairs?

Yatin Oza claimed that Kuershi’s appointment as Chief Justice to MP HC was stalled because of two key judgments he passed almost a decade ago that angered Amit Shah and Narendra Modi.

“In 2010, Justice Kureshi reversed an order issued by a Special CBI Court in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case and sent the then-junior home minister Amit Shah to two-day police custody. This was the first turning point.”
Yatin Oza, Senior Advocate, Gujarat High Court & President of Gujarat High CourtAdvocate’s Association (GHCAA)
Incidentally, the order allowed an advocate to accompany Amit Shah during his 48-hour remand and Shah’s advocate was none other than Yatin Oza.

The second judgement Justice Kureshi passed in 2012 pertains to the appointment of (Retd) Justice RA Mehta as Gujarat Lokayukta.

The then-governor of Gujarat, Kamala Beniwal, appointed Justice Mehta without consulting the state government’s council of ministers, adhering to Section 3 of Gujarat Lokayukta Act 1986, which confers powers to the Governor to make such an appointment.

“The State government immediately challenged the decision in the Gujarat High Court, which was heard by a Justice Kureshi, who upheld the Governor’s decision. This angered the government, which had not appointed a Lokayukta since 2004,” Yatin Oza said.

The matter reached the Supreme Court, which upheld the High Court’s decision; however, Justice Mehta refused to take charge of the Lokayukta.

Kureshi’s Appointment As Acting Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court

According to Oza, the first signs of resentment against Justice Kureshi were visible in November 2018, over his appointment as acting Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court.

That month, Justice Subhash Reddy, the then-chief justice of the Gujarat High Court, was appointed as a Supreme Court judge. As per seniority, Justice Kureshi was supposed to be appointed as the acting Chief Justice of Gujarat.

Instead, he was transferred to Bombay High Court and Justice AS Dave, who is junior to Justice Kureshi, was appointed as acting Chief Justice of Gujarat. The GHCAA went on strike against Justice Kureshi’s transfer.


The General Secretary of the GHCAA, Senior Advocate Prithviraj Jadeja, told The Quint how Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi intervened in the matter.

“After Justice Kureshi was transferred to Bombay High Court, we met with CJI Ranjan Gogoi, who assured us that in 5-6 months, the CJI and the SC Collegium would recommend Kureshi’s name  as chief justice to a good high court,” Jadeja said.

“Eventually the SC collegium recommended his name for CJ of MP High Court along with the names of Justice DN Patel and a few others. Although Justice DN Patel and Justice Kureshi are of the same seniority, only the former was elevated as CJ of Delhi High Court. Now Justice Patel has taken up his appointment, whereas Kureshi has been kept on hold.”
Prithviraj Jadeja, Senior Advocate, Gujarat High Court and General Secretary of the GHCAA

‘Judges Do Not File Pleas for Their Own Transfers or Promotions’

Jadeja categorically said that the GHCAA filed a petition in Supreme Court for Justice Kureshi out of concern for the independence of the Judiciary.

“We have no issues if the government rejects Justice Kureshi’s name, as long as they take action on the SC Collegium’s recommendations. Our immediate concern is that they should do something. We had gone on a strike for Justice Jayant Patel a couple of years back on similar grounds.”
Prithviraj Jadeja, Senior Advocate, Gujarat High Court and General Secretary of the GHCAA

On 25 September 2017, Justice Jayant Patel of the Karnataka High Court resigned after he was transferred to Allahabad High Court. Justice Patel, who came from the Gujarat High Court, missed out on the opportunity to become the Chief Justice of Karnataka, where he was the second-most senior judge.

Transfer to Allahabad High Court would mean that Justice Patel would lose his seniority as he is the third-most senior judge there. The Karnataka Bar Association and the GHCAA both went on strike to protest Justice Jayant Patel’s transfer. Incidentally, when Justice Patel was the acting chief justice of the Gujarat High Court, he ordered the CBI to investigate the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case, which led to several charges filed against senior police personnel in Gujarat.

“Once the seniority is due, a judge is automatically promoted. This is how the judiciary actually works. This is not about a personal liking for Mr Kureshi, it could be any xyz judge,” Jadeja said.

“Moreover, a Justice cannot speak for himself or herself. If I am a government employee and my promotion is deliberately stalled, I can file a writ petition before the High Court. But the Judges cannot file litigation for promotion and transfers.”
Prithviraj Jadeja, Senior Advocate, Gujarat High Court and General Secretary of the GHCAA

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Topics:  Narendra Modi   Amit Shah    Supreme Court 

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