Faced with a unique problem of recusal by judges at the Tripura High Court, the Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre to explore the possibility of using an article of the Constitution on appointment of judges of other High Courts as sitting judges to address the issue of recusal.
The issue came up after Tripura High Court Chief Justice T Vaiphei wrote a letter to Chief Justice of India J S Khehar that due to shortage of judges, it became difficult to set up a separate bench if a judge recused himself from hearing a particular case on grounds of conflict of interest.
The Tripura High Court at Agartala, which was established on March 23, 2013, has a sanctioned strength of four judges including the Chief Justice, and currently there are three serving judges. There are at least 26 cases in which recusal has been sought by the judges there.
Taking note of the letter, a bench headed by CJI Khehar asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to consider invoking Article 224-A by which a judge could be appointed.
Article 224-A of Constitution says "...the Chief Justice of a High Court for any State may at any time, with the previous consent of the President, request any person who has held the office of a Judge of that Court or of any other High Court to sit and act as a Judge of the High Court for that State."
Rohatgi, however, disagreed with the suggestion and said a judge appointed at one High Court cannot go to another.
"A judge appointed in a particular High Court cannot be sworn in another High Court. He cannot be a judge at two different High Courts at the same time," he said and suggested that a judge should be transferred from an adjoining High Court to the Tripura High Court to address the unique problem.
"As far as recommendations are concerned, we can make out that it doesn't take much time. It's you (government) who take time to approve," the bench, also comprising Justices N V Ramana and D Y Chandrachud, told the AG. The apex court then said that local representation of the bar should also be given importance and a judge from an adjoining High Court cannot be transferred.