Biggest transfer of high court judges since emergency: Justice Bibek Chaudhuri

Biggest transfer of high court judges since emergency: Justice Bibek Chaudhuri

Kolkata, Nov 21 (PTI) Justice Bibek Chaudhuri, who has been moved to Patna High Court from Calcutta, said his transfer is indicative of the 'beginning of a power shift' from executive to the judiciary.

During the 1975 emergency, at least 16 judges of different high courts were transferred by the executive and now after 48 years, 24 judges have been transferred by the Collegium, he added.

'During the emergency in 1975, 16 judges of different high courts were transferred by executive decision,' Justice Chaudhuri said at his farewell on Monday where members of the bar and the bench of Calcutta High Court were present.

'After almost 48 years, 24 judges have been transferred from one high court to another by the Collegium of the Hon'ble Supreme Court,' he added.

Justice Chaudhuri said he is therefore 'one of the beginners of the change of shifting of power from the hands of the executive to the hands of the highest seat of judiciary.' He said on January 28, 1983, the Centre had decided the chief justices of high courts will be from an outside state and one-third of the judges of a high court must be from outside the state.

'I think our transfer is the beginning of the introduction and implementation of that policy,' he said.

Stating that it was the desire of the Collegium to transfer him to Patna High Court, he said when he was elevated to the higher judiciary, he knew that the Constitution contains a provision under Article 222 that a judge can be transferred.

'But at the same time, with all humility, I must say that the judicial pronouncements are there that the Article 222 should be looked into; should be considered very sparingly,' he said.

Article 222 of the Constitution makes provision for the transfer of a judge, including chief justice, from one high court to any other high court.

Justice Chaudhuri said soon after joining Patna High Court on November 24, he would have to take four days' earn leave for making arrangements for his family.

'So I shall not be able to discharge my judicial duties in Patna on those days,' he said.

The Supreme Court Collegium had proposed the transfer of Justice Chaudhuri to Patna High Court on August 3.

A request by Justice Chaudhuri for reconsideration of the proposal was refused by the Collegium and it reiterated the recommendation for his transfer on August 10.

The gazette notification of his transfer to the Patna High Court was made on November 13.

Justice Chaudhuri said during his five-year tenure in Calcutta High Court, he disposed of about 6,000 main cases and a similar number of applications.

'I tried to deliver justice, I tried to give relief to the litigants,' Justice Chaudhuri, who started his career in 1989 as an advocate in the HC, said.

He thereafter joined the West Bengal Judicial Service as a civil judge in 1991 and was elevated as a judge of the Calcutta High Court in October, 2018.

While stating that his tenure at Calcutta High Court was a happy one, he hastened to add that it was not full of roses and there were some thorns which 'pricked and bled' his heart.

He said that he has worked under 11 chief justices.

He lamented that although he saw that the chief justices in their administrative committee and transfer committee inducted seniormost judge elevated from the service as a member, when his turn had come, he had not been considered.

Justice Chaudhuri said though it is the absolute power of the chief justice to form a committee of his choice, custom and precedent should be looked into. PTI AMR MNB

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