Delhi High Court proceedings adjourned as DHCBA protests judge's transfer

Delhi High Court

Delhi High Court


It was an unusual Monday for the otherwise jam-packed Delhi High Court as owing to unavailability of lawyers who were protesting against Justice Gaurang Kanth's transfer, it was compelled to adjourn most of the cases listed for the day.

New Delhi: It was an unusual Monday for the otherwise jam-packed Delhi High Court as owing to unavailability of lawyers who were protesting against Justice Gaurang Kanth's transfer, it was compelled to adjourn most of the cases listed for the day.

Last week, the Delhi High Court Bar Association (DHCBA) had passed a resolution urging its members to refrain from work on Monday.

The move came as a disagreement with the recent recommendation by the Supreme Court Collegium to transfer Justice Kanth, a sitting High Court judge, to the Calcutta High Court.

In the absence of the advocates, the court was forced to reschedule most of the cases.

The continuous requests for adjournment by proxy counsel appearing before the benches without any reason prompted the division bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Sanjeev Narula to question them on the same.

"We can’t adjourn cases like this...You can’t appear in every case like this. If someone is not well, fine we will adjourn it. But none of you are giving ground for adjournment," the bench remarked.

However, the bench dealt with certain cases in which lawyers appeared and passed orders in those matters.

Apart from the above bench, it was a similar situation before most of the other benches, too.

Justice Kanth was appointed as a judge of the Delhi High Court on May 18, 2022.

The Supreme Court has decided in an umpteen number of judgments, against calling of strikes by lawyers as a mode of protest.

Speaking to IANS, Advocate Namit Saxena said: "Recently, the top court had directed all High Courts to constitute Grievance Redressal Committees to prevent lawyer's strikes but to no avail. In absence of such a committee, the bar has no other way than to mark its resistance to an act or omission by abstaining from work collectively.

However, in the present case, the President of the country has acted upon a collegium recommendation to transfer a particular judge. Abstaining from work in such a case may not be fruitful."

The transfer was recommended by the Supreme Court Collegium on July 12 and was notified by the Central government on July 15.

The Collegium also dismissed Justice Kanth's plea to be transferred to the Madhya Pradesh High Court, Rajasthan High Court, or any other nearby state.

In the resolution, the DHCBA has said that the association expresses its serious concern about the recommendation of the Collegium of the SC in terms of which the proposal has been made to transfer Justice Kanth.

“DHCBA strongly resents the said recommendation. Needless to say that such transfer would adversely effect the dispensation of justice on account of consequent reduction of the existing strength of Hon'ble Judges,” it has said.

According to Advocate Vediccaa Ramdanee, "Justice Gaurang Kanth's transfer has attracted a lot of tension".

"The main reason being cited by the members of the Bar is the dwindling strength of the number of judges in the Delhi High Court," she said.

The DHCBA in its resolution said that it is a matter of regret that while no attention is being paid by all concerned regarding the process of filling up of the existing vacancies in the Delhi High Court, yet the transfer of the sitting Judge is being made thereby further reducing the existing strength of Judges in Delhi High Court.

It requested the collegium of the Hon'ble Supreme Court to revisit the aforesaid recommendation.

"Besides the copy of this resolution is also being sent to the Central government thereby requesting them to not to act on the said recommendation and instead call upon the collegium to re-consider the aforesaid decision,” the resolution further said.

On dispensation of Justice, Ramdanee said: "The sentiment is a shared one as even though the collegium has its own understanding for the transfer which is for "better administration of justice", it is also essential to see that dispensation of justice in matters over which he already presides over do not suffer."

Ramdanee opined that "the resolution by the Bar to abstain from work is also creating a hurdle in the dispensation of speedy justice as matters are being adjourned since lawyers are not turning up to argue the cases".

It is known that pending cases and load of the high court will result in long dates being given, making the aggrieved litigants suffer even more.

"One can only hope that the protest yields the desired outcome. The Collegium should understand the sentiment of the Bar and take the steps according to the immediate situation at hand and not what will be better for the future administration of justice," Ramdanee said.

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