Hyderabad: In an unusual move, the Secretary-General of the Supreme Court of India issued a statement on Thursday evening asserting that each of the recommendations for the recent transfers of Chief Justices/Judges of High Court was made for compelling reasons after complying with the required procedure in the interest of better administration. He referred to various news reports appearing in the media in this regard.
More importantly, and some would argue, more damagingly to the judges involved, the Statement goes on to state that “Though it would not be in the interest of the institution to disclose the reasons for transfer if found necessary, the Collegium will have no hesitation in disclosing the same.” It also underlined that “each of the recommendations was made after full and complete deliberation and the same was unanimously agreed upon by the Collegium.”
Legal circles are seeing this extraordinary move by the Supreme Court of issuing a Statement on the administrative side, as a response to the growing pressure on the Collegium, expressed through open criticism and agitation by Telangana High Court advocates against transfer of Justice P V Sanjay Kumar and by advocates of Madras High Court against transfer of Chief Justice Vijay K Tahilaramani. Many articles have been written questioning the Collegium’s opaque decision-making process regarding transfers and appointment of Chief Justices/Judges of High Courts.
Senior counsel L. Ravichander of Telangana High Court told Newsmeter Network that the main problem in the clarification issued by the Supreme Court is that it will decide for itself what is in public interest, and in the interest of judiciary while being non-transparent. He also found fault with Supreme Court hearing on the judicial side the challenge to its own decision on the administrative side and suggested that at least a different bench must be assigned such case to ensure strict fairness.
The threatening tone in the Statement about willingness to reveal the reasons for transfer has disturbed the legal fraternity, particularly in view of various gossip messages circulating in the WhatsApp groups about probable causes. The independence of the judiciary is at stake, and they point out. It appears, the last word in the controversy relating to the recent transfer of Chief Justices/Judges of the High Courts is yet to be said.