21 Nov 2023 5:30 AM GMT
“In 1975, during Emergency, 16 High Court judges were transferred by the Executive in one go, after almost 48 years, 24 High Court judges have been transferred by the SC Collegium in one go. I am one of the beginners in the shifting of power from the Executive to the Judiciary," Justice Bibek Chaudhuri said in a ‘farewell’ ceremony hosted by the Calcutta High Court upon his transfer...
“In 1975, during Emergency, 16 High Court judges were transferred by the Executive in one go, after almost 48 years, 24 High Court judges have been transferred by the SC Collegium in one go. I am one of the beginners in the shifting of power from the Executive to the Judiciary," Justice Bibek Chaudhuri said in a ‘farewell’ ceremony hosted by the Calcutta High Court upon his transfer to Patna.
Justice Chaudhuri pointed out that he considered himself to be one of the first in the wave of judges who would be transferred post-emergency, in order to signify a shift of power from the executive to the “highest seat of the judiciary” being the Supreme Court Collegium. He said:
"In 1983, the Indian Government’s policy mandated that 1/3rd of all High Court judges be from outside the State. By our transfer, it is the beginning of implementation of that policy.”
However, in addressing Article 222 of the Constitution, which lays down the provisions from transfer of High Court judges, Justice Chaudhuri expressed that the provisions of the article should be used sparingly as laid down in several judicial pronouncements. He added:
“With all humility, there are judicial pronouncements which lay down that Article 222 be used very sparingly. Please consider my case. [During the process of transfer] I shall not be able to discharge my judicial duties at Patna for many days. This might not happen if all the transferee judges had the chance to work in their native place.”
Notably, along with the transfer of Justice Bibek Chaudhuri, the Collegium had also recommended the transfers of Justice Shekhar B Saraf and Justice Lapita Banerji to Allahabad and Punjab & Haryana High Court respectively.
Justice Bibek Chaudhuri, who was elevated as a Judge of the Calcutta High Court in 2018, had earlier been a Judicial Officer for the State of West Bengal, serving in judicial and non-positions for 32 years.
In reflecting on his time at the Calcutta High Court, Justice Chaudhuri expressed his gratitude to the members of the bar, and pointed out that with their assistance, he had been able to dispose of almost 6000 listed cases, and a similar number of applications during his stint at the High Court.
He expressed further gratitude to his mentors, who guided his journey from his days as a junior advocate. Justice Chaudhuri expressed his thanks to his seniors on the Bench and expressed that he considered all those whom he shared the Bench with, as his mentors and friends, who guided him throughout his journey.
In conclusion, Justice Chaudhuri expressed his sorrow to be transferred away from the Calcutta High Court, and expressed gratitude to his family for supporting his journey.
Speeches of gratitude were also delivered by the AAG, as well as the office-bearers of the various Wings of the Bar, who expressed their gratefulness and saw Justice Chadhuri transfer as a loss for the Calcutta High Court, but a gain for the people of the State of Bihar.