BENGALURU: The resignation of the Karnataka High Court judge Jayant M Patel after his transfer to the Allahabad High Court has triggered a storm in legal circles in the state.
The Karnataka State Bar Council has opposed the transfer of Justice Patel at a time he would soon be due for elevation as the acting chief justice of the Karnataka High Court.
Karnataka law and parliamentary affairs minister T B Jayachandra said it was unfortunate that Justice Patel has resigned. “Justice Patel was one of the most honest and best judges I have seen,” he said.
Justice Patel, who was number two in terms of seniority in the Karnataka High Court, would have been elevated as the acting chief justice when the present incumbent chief justice Subhro Kamal Mukherjee retires on October 9, 2017.
Justice Patel had earlier worked as the acting chief justice of the Gujarat High Court. During his tenure in Gujarat, he handled many sensitive cases, including the Ishrat Jahan murder case in which he ordered a CBI investigation into the killing of the teenager and three others in Gujarat when Narendra Modi was the chief minister of that state.
Sources in the ruling establishment in Karnataka told New Indian Express that there was more than what meets the eye behind the transfer of the judge leading to his resignation. Justice Patel is said to have been upset that his promotion was nixed, sources added.
Currently second in seniority in Karnataka, Justice Patel would have been third had he accepted the transfer to Allahabad.
The advocate-general of Karnataka has suggested to the Karnataka State Bar Council to convene an emergency meeting on Wednesday to discuss the next course of action. Lawyers are likely to boycott court proceedings for one day across the state.
Y R Sadashiva Reddy, co-chairman of the Bar Council of India, said on Tuesday, "Transferring a judge who would shortly be elevated as the acting chief justice, without giving any reasons, has caused severe displeasure to the advocate fraternity in Karnataka.”
Justice Jayant Patel was elevated as additional judge of the High Court of Gujarat on December 3, 2001 and confirmed as a permanent Judge in 2004. He was appointed as the acting chief justice of the High Court on August 13, 2015. He was sworn in as Judge of Karnataka High Court in February 2016.