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Bench clean-up with forced transfer of 20 HC judges; More on Kapadia’s hitlist?

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Chief Justice of India (CJI) S H Kapadia has initiated the transfer of 20 high court judges, citing “public interest” in an apparent first step by him to clean up the judiciary.

Kapadia together with the Supreme Court Collegium of four other senior-most judges seem to have made a decision to transfer judges in 20 cases. The collegium has written letters to high court judges asking where they would like to be transferred to or in the case of chief justices whether they had any objections to the transfers, according to a number of media reports over the weekend.

According to the Hindustan Times, three judges each from Allahabad, Punjab & Haryana and Rajasthan high courts, two each from Delhi, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu high courts and several judges from Orissa and Assam high courts were requested to transfer.

However, Legally India understands from one source familiar with the development that Kapadia may have already drawn up a list that is several times longer than 20 judges and that also includes judges at lower courts and across India.

Kapadia’s appointment as CJI was announced only in April.

In May Kapadia chose to forego his two-month summer holiday as CJI-designate to travel across India and visit local courts and “to know firsthand the problems you are facing”, as re-reported by Legally India at the time.

The Hindustan Times reported that “lawyers' bodies of some states have questioned the move saying if judges were being transferred merely on the basis of complaints against them (which have not been investigated) some upright judges were also likely to be affected”.

Karnataka Chief Justice P D Dinakaran was transferred to the Sikkim High Court in August 2010 following charges of corruption and impeachment proceedings against him.

Update 13 September: Three judges from Punjab & Haryana have apparently agreed to be transferred, reported the Indian Express today.

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