In an official release, the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) has condemned the decision to transfer Justice Jayant Patel to the Allahabad High Court.
Justice Patel, resigned on Monday, allegedly to protest his non-elevation as the Chief Justice of any High Court, despite his seniority. While the issue of Justice Patel’s elevation has been brought up several times in the past, the final stroke seems to have been his transfer to Allahabad High Court, where he was to be the third senior-most Judge.
Denouncing the collegium’s decision, CJAR’s release states, “It is unfortunate, the manner in which the Chief Justice of India has recommended Justice Patel’s transfer to Allahabad High Court. There appears no rational reason for his transfer since he has already been transferred once and clearly should have been appointment the next Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court. The transfer is even more inexplicable when considered in light of the fact that the Karnataka High Court has less than half the sanctioned strength of judges, and no new appointments have been made either.”
The release further makes reference to Justice Patel’s order directing a CBI investigation into the controversial Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case and says that he is “being victimized for his courage and commitment to take on cases that went against the political establishment”.
It then attempts to bring back the focus on the collegium system of judicial appointments and demands that the following measures be implemented to ensure that judicial appointments are free from arbitrariness, nepotism or political considerations:
“- eligibility criteria and process for selection/transfer of judges are made public;
- names of short listed candidates are disclosed, along with details of how they satisfy the eligibility criteria, why they were selected over those who were not, and their background details;
- putting in place an appropriate procedure to maintain minutes of all meetings of the collegium;
- that the minutes of the meetings of the collegium are made public.”