CUTTACK: Orissa High Court is expected to get a permanent Chief Justice (CJ) soon with the Supreme Court Collegium starting the process for it on Saturday. The senior most judge of Orissa High Court Justice Sanju Panda is in charge as the Acting Chief Justice since January 5 following the retirement of Justice KS Jhaveri.
The Collegium has started the process by recommending transfer of Justice Mohammad Rafiq, who is presently Chief Justice of Meghalaya High Court, to Orissa High Court.As per procedure after receiving the recommendation, the Union Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs is expected to obtain the view of the Odisha Government and then submit the proposal to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) for being forwarded to the President. The Department of Justice will announce the appointment and issue necessary notification in the Gazette of India as soon as the appointment is approved by the President.
“We are hopeful that the appointment process will be completed soon. Appointment of a permanent chief justice is essential to expedite the recommendation process for filling up the existing vacancies by the High Court Collegium,” members of Orissa High Court Bar Association said.
Though the HC has a sanctioned strength of 27 judges, it has been functioning with 48 per cent vacancy as only four judges have been appointed in the past five years. The last appointments of judge were made on April 17, 2015 (Justice KR Mohapatra), November 19, 2018 (Justice AK Mishra), on November 8, 2019 (Justice Bibhu Prasad Routray) and on February 10 (Justice Sanjeeb Kumar Panigrahi). At present, the High Court has 14 judges.