Centre appoints Chief Justices of three high courts

The Centre Tuesday appointed Chief Justices of three High Courts — Karnataka, Jammu and Kashmir and Rajasthan — as recommended by the Supreme Court Collegium led by Chief Justice of India U U Lalit on September 28.

Justice P B Varale of the Bombay HC has been appointed Chief Justice of the Karnataka HC. The HC has had an Acting Chief Justice since July.

Justice Pankaj Mithal, who was the Chief Justice of the Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh HC, has now been appointed Chief Justice of the Rajasthan HC.

Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey of the J&K HC has been appointed Chief Justice of that HC. The Memorandum of Procedure, the document that governs the process of appointing judges to the higher judiciary, states that if a judge of a HC has less than a year to retire and is the senior-most judge of that HC, then the judge can be appointed Chief Justice of the parent HC itself. Justice Magrey retires on December 7.

On September 28, the five-member Collegium also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud, Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Abdul Nazeer and K M Joseph had also recommended the appointment of Justice S Muralidhar, the Chief Justice of Orissa HC as Chief Justice of the Madras HC. The Collegium recommended the appointment of Justice Jaswant Singh, a judge of the Orissa HC, as the Chief Justice of Orissa HC.

Although all recommendations for fresh appointment and transfer were made together, the Centre is yet to transfer Justice Muralidhar, whose parent HC is the Delhi HC and has a tenure till August 7, 2023. As one of the senior most HC judges, Justice Muralidhar is known for his landmark verdicts on civil liberties. In 2009, he was part of the bench with Justice A P Shah that delivered the landmark verdict decriminalising homosexuality. In 2010, Justice Muralidhar ruled that the office of the CJI was within the purview of the RTI.

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