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'Govt's negative opinion about me proves my judicial independence'

Govts negative opinion about me proves my judicial independence
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Jodhpur: The outgoing Chief Justice of the Rajasthan High Court, Justice Akil Abdulhamid Kureshi, on Saturday said the government's negative perception about him is a certificate of his judicial independence.

Justice Kureshi made the remark referring to some observations made by a former chief justice of India in his biography, explaining why the Rajasthan CJ's recommendations on the appointment of the CJs of the Madhya Pradesh and Tripura high courts were rejected.

Addressing the members of the bar and bench of the Rajasthan High Court on the last day of his office, outgoing Chief Justice Kureshi also expressed surprise over the alleged heavy pruning by the Supreme Court the list of advocates sent by high courts for their appointment as judges.

This will lead to a dearth of bright judicial minds on the bench, he cautioned.

Though Justice Kureshi did not name the former CJI, he apparently referred to former CJI Ranjan Gogoi, whose autobiography released last December, had reportedly mentioned about the much-talked-about transfers of Justice Kureshi, then a judge of the Gujarat High Court and Justice V K Tahilramani, the then CJ of the Madras High Court, amongst others.

I have not read the biography but going by the media reports, he has made certain disclosures regarding changing of my recommendations for the CJs of MP and Tripura. It is stated that the government had some negative perceptions about me based on my judicial opinions, he said.

As a judge of a constitutional court whose most primary duty is to protect the fundamental and human rights of citizens, I consider it as a certificate of independence, he added. Referring to the elevation of advocates to the bench, Justice Kureshi said he was surprised to see the list of advocates recommended by high courts for appointment to the bench being pruned heavily by the Supreme court.

Whatever is the reason for this difference in the perception between high courts and the Supreme Court, it must be resolved quickly or else we will find it increasingly difficult to have good advocates to join the bench, he said.

While talking about his stint as the Rajasthan High Court's chief justice, Justice Kureshi also mentioned the shortage of judges, attributing it to the burden and burnout effect on judges .

When I joined, there were only 36 judges. I do not think this number was ever crossed. During this period, work has increased manifold. It puts an inhuman burden on judges and it has its burnout effects, he said.

Kureshi, who had joined the Rajasthan High Court as its chief justice on October 12, 2021, said the very reason for the existence of courts was to protect the rights of citizens.

He stated that far more than any direct affront, it is stealthily encroaching on the democratic values and rights of citizens, which should worry all, he said.

Justice Kureshi also called upon young lawyers to live by principles, and said, Success is sweeter when you reach your destination through a straight path and failure as a product of principled living was more satisfying than success founded on compromises.

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