New Delhi: President Pratibha Patil has appointed Jagdish Bhalla, who was in the thick of a controversy, Chief Justice of the Himachal Pradesh High Court.
In 2006, Justice Bhalla, then judge of the Allahabad High Court, was recommended for elevation as Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court though there were certain allegations against him. On the eve of his retirement, the former Chief Justice of India Y.K. Sabharwal justified the recommendation.
However, after the then President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam raised objections, the Supreme Court collegium headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan reconsidered the decision and Justice Bhalla was shifted to the Chhattisgarh High Court as judge. Later he became the acting Chief Justice. Subsequently, the collegium reiterated his elevation and he was recommended for appointment as the regular Chief Justice of the Himachal Pradesh High Court.
The Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Judicial Reforms had urged MPs to move an impeachment motion against Justice Bhalla for the irregularities said to have been committed by him.
The collegium has also recommended the transfer of two judges of the Madras High Court — Justice Ashok Kumar to the Andhra Pradesh High Court and Justice S.R. Singaravelu to the Jharkhand High Court. Law Ministry sources said the transfers would be made in the next few days.
The recommendation to shift Justice Ashok Kumar has come even as the apex court is seized of a petition filed by the former Law Minister Shanthi Bhushan and advocate Kamini Jaiswal questioning his appointment. The court is examining whether consultations by the Chief Justice with other judges in the collegium were disregarded in the appointment of Justice Ashok Kumar as a permanent judge of the Madras High Court.
The collegium is also understood to have cleared the appointment of advocate R. Subbiah as judge of the Madras High Court. He is among the four names recommended by the High Court. The sources said the names of advocates K. Kannan and M. Satyanarayanan did not figure at the collegium meeting. As for Chitra Sampath, the collegium has deferred consideration of her name for the time being.
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