The Bombay Bar Association (BBA), in a unanimous resolution, passed at its Extraordinary General Meeting on Thursday, condemned both the Supreme Court (SC) collegium and the Central government pertaining to their role in the transfer and elevation of Justice Akil Kureshi. It expressed strong disapproval of his transfer as the Chief Justice (CJ) of the Tripura High Court (HC). The BBA alleged that the SC collegium had modified its earlier recommendation of elevating Justice Kureshi as the CJ of the Madhya Pradesh HC at the "behest of the government of India". The resolution also stated that the Centre's interference with the SC collegium's decision-making was tantamount to threatening the independence of the judiciary.
According to the resolution, this would affect the ability of the judges to fulfil their constitutional mandate without fear or favour. The BBA also criticised the opaque procedure followed by the SC collegium.
"This Association expresses serious concerns and strongly disapproves the Collegium's manner of decision-making pertaining to the elevation of Justice A.A. Kureshi as Chief Justice of the Tripura High Court and the modification of earlier recommendation at the behest of the Government of India.
This resolution believes that the modification of the Collegium's recommendation in the case of Justice A.A.Kureshi at the behest of the Government undermines the independence of the judiciary and would have an adverse impact on the functioning of the judiciary as a whole and the ability of the judges to discharge their constitutional functions without fear or favour. This Association views with grave apprehension the opaque procedure followed by the collegium relating to the elevation of Justice A.A.Kureshi as the Chief Justice. This Association believes that the disclosure of reasons behind the Collegium's recommendations (and modifications thereof), is necessary and would subserve the interests of the judiciary and the administration of justice.
This Association further strongly disapproves the manner in which the Government has interfered with the Collegium's decision-making in respect of the appointment of Justice A.A.Kureshi in particular, and appointments, elevation or transfer of Judges in general thereby threatening the independence of the judiciary."
Originally appointed as the judge of the Gujarat HC in 2004, Justice Kureshi was transferred to the Bombay HC on November 14, 2018. Thereafter, the SC collegium recommended his appointment as the CJ of the Madhya Pradesh HC in a resolution dated 10th May 2019. However, the Centre failed to act on this despite the passage of 4 months. Subsequently, the matter reached the SC after which, the Union government sent back the file to the SC collegium with accompanying material. Recently, the SC collegium published a resolution, making a modification to its original recommendation, calling for his appointment as the CJ of the Tripura HC instead of the Madhya Pradesh HC.