The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre to decide by August 14 on the pending appointment of Justice Akil Kureshi as the chief justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, PTI reported. The Centre had in June named another judge as acting chief justice, ignoring the collegium’s recommendation of Kureshi’s name.
The top court’s collegium had recommended the Bombay High Court judge for the post on May 10. All the other three judges recommended for elevation on that day were approved by the Centre within days and have taken charge as chief justices of their High Courts. However, Kureshi’s appointment remains pending.
A day before the incumbent chief justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, Sanjay Kumar Seth, retired in June, the Centre issued a notification, saying that Justice Ravi Shanker Jha would take over as acting chief justice. The Gujarat High Court Advocates Association filed a petition before the Supreme Court challenging the delay in Kureshi’s appointment.
On Friday, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, told a bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi that the government needs 10 more days to decide on Kureshi’s name as the Parliament is still in session. “Whatever decision you want to take, take that and place it before the court,” the bench said.
Kureshi had been transferred from the Gujarat High Court to the Bombay High Court last year, despite protests from the bar. The Gujarat High Court Advocates Association had moved a resolution, claiming that the transfer was made with “extraneous considerations” in mind.
The advocates association’s president, Yatin Oza, earlier claimed in an interview with Bar and Bench that Kureshi was being “punished” for his 2010 verdict to send Bharatiya Janata Party leader Amit Shah to police custody for two days in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh case. Oza also pointed out that in 2011, Kureshi had upheld the Gujarat governor’s decision to appoint a Lokayukta, which was challenged by the state government.
Shah was then the home minister of Gujarat, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the chief minister. Shah is now the Union home minister.