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Telangana HC lawyers to resume protest against judge’s transfer

Hyderabad: The Telangana High Court Advocates’ Association (THCAA) on Tuesday said that they would be pursuing alternative forms of boycott to protest the “whimsical” transfer of Justice Abhishek Reddy by a Supreme Court collegium

The association made the announcement at a General Body Meeting inside the High Court premises. A five member Supreme Court (SC) collegium including Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud had proposed the transfer of Justice A Abhishek Reddy to Patna High Court (HC). Post the announcement of the transfer, advocates and members of the bar association met with the CJI on Monday to address their greivances.

The president of THCAA, V Raghunath said, “We brought up the issue with Justice Chandrachud. He told us that our concerns would be addressed and asked us to call of our strike. We are still hopeful and currently looking at other forms of protest.”

Justice Chandrachud on Saturday had opined that when lawyers strike, consumers of justice suffer. Along with the Telangana High Court, the bar association of the Gujarat High Court also protested against the transfer of Justice Nikhil Kariel.

“If I skip court for a few days, my clients will struggle momentarily. If arbitrary transfers continue, a generation of clients will suffer,” senior counsel of the Telangana High Court L Ravichander stated. The statement comes at a time when protesting lawyers were under fire from general public to CJI to Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju for refusing to attend court in favour of the protest.

Agreeing with Ravichander’s statement, THCAA president V Raghunath remarked, “I am a citizen first, lawyer next. The idea that I shouldn’t be protesting to address a concern important to lawyers and the judiciary by extension is not fair.”

Raghunath further said that it was important that some form of explanation be offered as to why Justice Abhishek Reddy was transferred.

“At the very least, in house proceedings should be conducted. The judge in question should be given a chance to present his side of the story. This pick-and-choose method of taking judges and transfer them to remote areas like Meghalaya is unreasonable,” he added.

Advocate Sharada Goud, one of the protestors remarked that it was unreasonable to transfer a judge hailing from Telangana to other states. “It is important that judges here know the history, the culture of the state and understand the politics which behind the struggle for separate statehood,” she said.

It is worth noting that along with Justice Reddy, Justice Sanjay Kumar, Justice Amarnath Goud and Justice MS Ramchandra Rao, all judges hailing from Telangana were transferred out of the state to Punjab and Haryana, and Tripura High Courts.

“This issue is not about Justice Abhishek Reddy. It is about the administration of the judiciary. A Supreme Court collegium only has the power to recommend appointment of judges who are then appointed by the President of India. The SC collegium has no power to transfer judges, at least not in the Constitution,” said Ravichander.

Responding to corruption allegations levelled against Justice Abhishek Reddy, Raghunath remarked that, “Even if the allegations are true, there needs to be due process.” Ravichander added that by transferring Justice Reddy, the SC collegium was giving “currency to gossip”.

Raghunath remarked that if the SC for reasons unknown (be it political or social) arbitrarily transferred judges, then it would create an atmosphere of fearful judges which would hinder the functioning of the judiciary.