The transfer of Andhra Pradesh High Court Chief Justice, Justice JK Maheshwari against whom Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy had written a letter on October 6 to the Chief Justice of India alleging that he is bent upon destabilizing and topple his democratically elected government, is now is creating a storm in the political circles. On Thursday, the government, on the recommendation of the Supreme Court Collegium headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde recommended the transfer of Justice Maheshwari as the Chief Justice of Sikkim High Court and Sikkim High Court Chief Justice AK Goswami to the Andhra Pradesh HC.
Justice Justice Maheswari and few other judges of the AP HC had come under bitter criticism from ruling YSRCP leaders and cadres especially on social media. The HC had also ordered a CBI probe into the social media criticism. As has happened often over the years, not all the transfers were received well. It is also not uncommon for these transfers to cast doubt on the independence of the judiciary and judge probity. There are no clear parameters detailing the circumstances which warrant the transfer of high court judges.
Speaking to the Hello Vizag on condition of anonymity, a legal luminary in Vizag said that “hardly any discussion takes place and the material warranting transfer of a particular judge is ever circulated to the members of the collegiums. Stating further he said, maybe, in some cases, there are complaints regarding the integrity of a particular judge. Depending upon the gravity of the complaint and the availability of the material in support of such an allegation, the transfer might be justified. But in such cases, I believe, the basic principle of natural justice be complied and the judge concerned must be given an opportunity to explain his case and prove the allegations baseless.
On several occasions, the Supreme Court of India declared its constitutional position that every action of the State must be informed with reason and that the decision-making process be rational. “I believe, that the decision-making process of the judiciary cannot be an exception to the general rule. Somebody in the constitutional system is required to know and examine whether the decision-making process and the decision reached are rational. In the context of the transfer of high court Chief Justice JK Maheshwari, if no reasons recorded, there would be no opportunity to examine the rationality of such a decision”
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