Protesting the transfer of senior-most puisne judge of the Karnataka High Court Justice Jayant Patel to Allahabad High Court, more than 200 lawyers practicing in Bengaluru have signed a letter addressed to the Chief Justice of India.
The letter states that the transfer, which prevented Justice Patel to be elevated as the Chief Justice or the acting CJ of the Karnataka HC, came as a shock to advocates across the country.
It further said that the decision has also brought the issue of lack of transparency in the collegium system in the forefront. The letter mentions that the timing of the transfer was also unwarranted, as more than 50% of the judgesâ€™ posts in the Karnataka HC are vacant.
It also asked the collegium to reveal the reasons behind the transfer order stating that this was not the first instance that Justice Patel was superseded for the position of Chief Justice.
Lawyers in the state will also abstain from doing court work on October 4 protesting over the same development.
Read the full letter below
LAWYERSâ€™ COMMUNITY BANGALORE, KARNATAKA
The Honâ€™ble Chief Justice Of India
Supreme Court of India,
Open Letter to the Supreme Court Collegium regarding the transfer and supersession of the seniority of Justice Jayant Patel
The decision of the Collegium transferring Justice Jayant Patel to the Allahabad High Court resulting in his supersession to the post of the Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court has shocked the advocates not only in Karnataka, but across the country. Justice Jayant Patel is known as a fair, impartial and independent judge. The decision of the collegium to transfer him has once again brought to the forefront the issues relating to the absolute lack of transparency and accountability in the functioning of the collegium system.
Several attending circumstances raise further doubts as to the propriety of the decision of the collegium. Considering the impeccable record and clinical efficiency of Justice Jayant Patel, becoming the Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court was a natural progression in his tenure, which he has now been deprived of. The timing of the transfer clearly shows that it was intended to ensure that Justice Jayant Patel would not be made Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court. Further, the transfer being evidently unwarranted at this juncture, having regard to the serious shortage of Judges in the Karnataka High Court, due to more than 50% of the posts of judges being vacant, also, call for disclosure of reasons behind his transfer.
This is not the first time that Justice Jayant Patel has been superseded. Previously, in 2015, when he was the acting Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court, he was transferred to the Karnataka High Court. We must remember that the last famous supersession happened during the emergency, when Justice H.R. Khanna was superseded for his dissenting opinion in the Habeas Corpus case. The lack of transparency and accountability at that juncture had allowed for such grave injustice. It is indeed ironic that after Justice Khanna was vindicated on 24.08.2017 by the Supreme Court in the judgment of the Right to Privacy Case, that the Collegium has taken this decision. The independence of the judiciary is an essential attribute of Rule of law, and the actions taken against Justice Jayant Patel raises serious questions regarding the independence of the judiciary and hence the rule of law itself.
We, the members of the Bangalore Bar are of the opinion that this action against Justice Jayant Patel is symptomatic of the lack of accountability and transparency in the judicial system. This affects the independence of the judiciary and erodes the fundamental values of our Constitution.
Thus, we believe, that in the light of the facts and circumstances narrated above, the independence of the judiciary is at stake. Hence, we demand that the Apex Court Collegium make public the reasons for the transfer of Justice Jayant Patel, the agenda for the meeting in which the decision was taken and the minutes of the meeting of the Collegium. We also seek that the order of transfer issued to him be immediately revoked and his resignation not be accepted.