Apex court quashes Andhra HC order disapproving SC collegium transferring chief justices

High court judge Justice Rakesh Kumar, referring to the transfer of Andhra Pradesh Chief Justice Maheshwari, said it could result in undue benefits for the state government.

ByPTI

Published Feb 10, 2024 | 10:17 AMUpdatedFeb 10, 2024 | 10:17 AM

Supreme Court of India

The Supreme Court on Friday, 9 February, quashed an Andhra Pradesh High Court order that voiced strong disapproval over the apex court collegium transferring two chief justices and castigated Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy for his apparent attempts to undermine it.

A bench comprising Justices Bela M Trivedi and Pankaj Mithal set aside the observations made in the order passed by a single-judge bench of the high court and disposed of the matter.

The top court was hearing an appeal filed by the Andhra Pradesh government challenging the 30 December 2020 judgement by Justice Rakesh Kumar of the high court.

The observations were made while adjudicating a plea seeking the judge’s recusal from a case involving a challenge to the auction of state land.

Justice Kumar had referred to the transfer of Andhra Pradesh Chief Justice Maheshwari by the Supreme Court collegium and said this could result in undue benefits for the government in the southern state.

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The high court’s observations

“I am of the opinion that for a situation which is prevailing today, in which impartiality, integrity, honesty, unbiased, etc. in the judicial system are being raised, to some extent, we are also responsible. In several instances we have noticed that immediately after demitting the office of judge, judges are provided with new assignments,” Justice Kumar said.

The high court had said, “If we start to restrict our expectation of reassignment or re-employment at least for a period of one year after retirement, then political parties, even a party in power cannot undermine the independence of the judiciary.

“One can infer how the government in the state of Andhra Pradesh is proceeding. Firstly, an attack was made on the Legislative Council, thereafter another constitutional body, that is, the State Election Commission, and now, the High Court of Andhra Pradesh and even the Supreme Court is under attack by persons who are in power,” the judge wrote in his judgement.

The high court judge said due to the situation prevailing in Andhra Pradesh, the protection of the fundamental rights of the state’s citizens by the court has become very difficult.

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