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Modi Govt Blocking Elevation of Justice Akil Kureshi Who Had Sent Amit Shah To Police Custody

"It is most unfortunate that the government of India acts so vindictively," claimed Yatin Oza, GHCAA President.

On Wednesday, June 19, Justices V Ramasubramanian and RS Chauhan were appointed Chief Justices of the High Courts of Himachal Pradesh and Telangana respectively after the government cleared their elevation. Justice DN Patel was named Chief Justice of Delhi High Court on May 22.

Of the four names recommended by the Supreme Court Collegium comprising Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SA Bobde and NV Ramana on May 10, three have thus been cleared. The fourth name, however, is a tricky one. As per a report in the Indian Express, the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party government is sitting on the Collegium’s decision to elevate Justice Akil Kureshi as Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court. The Centre, as per The Wire, has, has even notified the appointment of Justice Ravi Shanker Jha, as acting chief justice with effect from June 10.

Kureshi is the senior-most judge from the Gujarat high court and is currently functioning, on transfer, in the Bombay high court. What’s stopping Kureshi’s elevation then?

In 2010, Justice Kureshi had remitted the current Union home minister, Amit Shah, to police custody for two days in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case. In 2011, Justice Kureshi had also upheld the decision of the then Governor, to appoint Justice RA Mehta as Lokayukta in Gujarat, which was challenged by the Narendra Modi-led government in the state.

Also read: Gujarat HC Lawyers Allege Judge Transferred Because ‘Disliked’ By Modi and Shah, Go On Strike

Speaking to Bar & Bench, Gujarat High Court Advocates’ Association (GHCAA) President Yatin Oza criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government for stalling the appointment of Justice  Kureshi, saying, “It is most unfortunate that government of India acts so vindictively. It is complete sabotage to the Constitution because the judgment of the Supreme Court (TheNJAC Judgment) under Article 141 binds everybody. Simply because in 2010, he remitted Amit Shah to police custody for two days and in 2011 he upheld the decision of the Governor — for that he is being punished.”

Oza added, “Hon’ble Prime Minister had put his hand on the Constitution on May 25, and this is exactly to the contrary. Most appointments were approved on May 21. He could have sent the file back if he was not in agreement with the appointment of Justice Kureshi. So one thing is certain, he has decided to victimise Justice Kureshi.”

This is not the first time that Justice Kureshi has appeared to be targeted. His transfer to the Bombay High Court in 2018 was opposed by the GHCAA. Justice Kureshi would have been the acting Chief Justice of the High Court – following the elevation of Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy to the Supreme Court (SC) on November 1. However, on October 29, the SC collegium had recommended that he be transferred to the Bombay HC.

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