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No Fear No Favour

Did my duty as per oath, had no desire to be shifted to Allahabad: Justice Patel on resignation

The senior judge, who declared resignation on Monday, was widely expected to take charge as the Acting Chief Justice of the Karnataka HC.

After sending in his resignation to the President, the senior-most judge of the Karnataka High Court, Justice Jayant M Patel said that those who stood against his elevation “must answer how it was done”. Justice Patel’s decision to resign came following the Supreme Court collegium’ order to transfer him to the Allahabad High Court. The senior judge, who declared resignation on Monday, was widely expected to take charge as the Acting Chief Justice of the Karnataka HC after Chief Justice SK Mukherjee’s retirement on October 9.

Being a part of a two-judge bench in the Gujarat High Court, Justice Patel, in 2011, had ordered a CBI probe into the killing of Ishrat Jahan and three others. The court’s order came after a Special Investigation Team (SIT) concluded that the police encounter, that killed the four terror suspects, was a fake one.

However, speaking to the Indian Express, Justice Patel did not link his 2011 decision in the Ishrat Jahan case with the recent denial of his appointment as the Chief Justice. Stating that he viewed cases in the court on merit, he said, “Those who have taken decisions must answer how it was done. I cannot say anything. Every day we take decisions. We do not look at whether the case is about X or Y and we cannot decide a matter like that. We do not see the name of the party and decide the course. This is what is expected of us. I don’t think this could be the reason (for my transfer) but I cannot answer as the decisions were taken by someone else. “

Further mentioning that the key reason behind his resignation was his transfer order to the Allahabad High Court, Justice Patel told Indian Express, “When I became aware of my contemplated transfer to the Allahabad High Court, I decided to resign. I have already sent my resignation to the President of India. From yesterday, I am relieved of responsibilities. How it happened and what happened is for you to consider,’’ he said. I had no desire to be shifted to Allahabad. I have worked with dignity for 16 years as a judge, and for (the remaining) ten months why should I go to another place. What I feel is that I did my duty as per the oath of my office. Punishment is ultimately in God’s hands. One thing I can say is that wherever I worked, it has been with all sincerity and strictly as per my oath of office.”

And amid mixed reactions among advocate bodies, over the transfer order of Justice Patel, the Gujarat High Court Advocate Association (GHCAA) had on Tuesday resolved to challenge the Supreme Court’s order. Reportedly, the GHCAA petition will be “seeking full disclosure of the reasons of the collegium of the Supreme Court or High Courts with regard to the recommendations of appointments, non-appointments, non-confirmation of High Court Judges and/ or elevation of a High Court judge to the Supreme Court or as Chief Justice of High Court, and for making full-fledged judicial review available in such situations.”

After having served as the Active Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court from August 2015 to February 2016, Justice Patel started working as a judge of the Karnataka High Court from February 13, 2016.

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