BENGALURU: Upset at being transferred when he was set to be elevated, second seniormost judge of the Karnataka High Court, Justice Jayant Patel, resigned on Monday. This is the second time that the judge, who had ordered a CBI investigation into the 2004 Ishrat Jahan encounter case while serving in Gujarat, has lost out on elevation as chief justice.
It was when Justice Patel was serving as acting Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court that he was transferred to Karnataka High Court in February 2016.
Justice Patel was set to take over as either acting chief justice or chief justice, with Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court Subhro Kamal Mukherjee retiring on October 9. On learning of the Supreme Court collegium’s decision to transfer him to Allahabad HC, Justice Patel, who was visiting the Vaishnodevi temple in Jammu, cut short his tour and returned to Bengaluru on Sunday. After discussing his decision with Chief Justice Mukherjee and a few fellow judges on Monday, he tendered his resignation, which was accepted. His transfer to Allahabad High Court meant he would not become chief justice as he has only 10 months of service left.
Justice Patel, who had also monitored the probe into the Ishrat Jahan case for about six months when Narendra Modi was Gujarat Chief Minister, refused to attribute any reason for his resignation. He said he did not wish to move to the Allahabad HC, where he would be third seniormost judge, to serve for remaining 10 months of his tenure. He refused to speak on reasons for his transfer or speculate if it was related to his judgments during his tenure in Gujarat.
Knowing the man
Justice Jayant M Patel was elevated as additional judge of the High Court of Gujarat on December 3, 2001 and confirmed as permanent judge in 2004. Then he ordered a CBI probe into the alleged fake encounter of Ishrat Jahan in Gujarat. He was appointed Acting Chief Justice on August 13 , 2015 and was transferred to the Karnataka High Court on February 13, 2016. He enrolled with the Bar in August, 1979 and initially practiced in Rajkot. In 1985, he shifted to the Gujarat High Court. In 1990, he was appointed as Additional Central Government Standing Counsel and worked for 10 years and was in-charge senior standing counsel for the Union government.