New Delhi: Tripura High Court Chief Justice Akil Hamid Kureshi has been left out in the elevation of nine judges to the Supreme Court in the recommendations by the five-judge collegium headed by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, obviously knowing the Modi government's displeasure towards Justice Kureshi due to his two orders in the Gujarat High Court where he joined the judiciary in 2004.
It was for these reasons that the government transferred him to the Bombay High Court instead of confirming him as the Chief Justice of Gujarat, and for the second time rejected the collegium's decision to make him the Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh and forced it to be posted in Tripura.
The vacancies in the Supreme Court piled up to nine and went up to 10 on Wednesday on the retirement of Justice Navin Sinha, as Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman refused the unanimity required in the collegium decisions unless Justice Kureshi and Karnataka High Court Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka, who had joined the judiciary in Mumbai in 2003, were elevated as the senior-most chief justices of the high courts.
Justice Nariman's retirement retirement last week prompted the CJI to convene a collegium meeting and send the recommendations for elevation of nine as the top court judges, including Additional Solicitor General PS Narsimha, who had appeared for the Centre in the Ram Janmabhoomi case.
The collegium cleared the name of Justice Oka, but not that of Justice Kureshi, who as a Gujarat High Court judge had sent the then state Home Minister Amit Shah to a two-day custody in the Sohrabuddin encounter case, and approving in 2012 the appointment of the Lokayukta by then governor Kamla Beniwal, without consulting Modi, who was then the chief minister.
Justice Oka had earned the government's ire in the Bombay High Court for passing several orders on the migrant workers, with critical observations on the government's handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The vacancies in the top court since the collegium could not recommend elevation of any for the past 22 months. In fact, the previous Chief Justice of India Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde could not hold a single collegium meeting to appoint the top court judges.
Along with Justice Oka, another judge recommended for elevation from the Karnataka High Court is Justice BV Nagarathna, who is tipped to be India's next CJI. In fact, the collegium has recommended three women judges to go to the top court. Two others are Telangana Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Gujarat High Court's Justice Bela Trivedi, who is recommended along with Gujarat Chief Justice Vikram Nath.
Others recommended for the elevation are Sikkim Chief Justice J K Maheshwari, Justice CT Ravikumar of Kerala High Court, and MM Sundaresh of the Madras High Court.