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Over two months after the Collegium’s modified resolution, the Central Government has notified the appointment of Justice Akil Kureshi as the Tripura High Court’s Chief Justice.
Justice Kureshi, a senior judge originally from the Gujarat High Court, has been serving as a judge of the Bombay High Court following a transfer until now. Justice Akil Kureshi started his practice in 1983 after obtaining an LL.B. degree that same year. He was appointed as an additional judge of the Gujarat High Court in March 2004 and was confirmed as a permanent judge in 2005.
The question of Justice Kureshi’s elevation as Chief Justice has been mired in controversy since last year, after it was revealed that Justice AS Dave – a judge less senior to Kureshi J – would be appointed as Acting Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court after Justice Subhash Reddy’s elevation to the Supreme Court. At the time, Justice Kureshi was the senior most judge of the Gujarat High Court.
At the same time, Justice Kureshi was transferred to the Bombay High Court, even as the Gujarat Bar reacted strongly. Eventually, Justice Kureshi served as Acting Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court for a short period, before he assumed his duties at the Bombay High Court.
Thereafter, in May 2019, the Collegium initially recommended the elevation of Justice Akil Kureshi as Chief Justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court.
On the day before the declaration of the 2019 general election results, the Centre issued twelve notifications clearing appointments of judges to various High Courts and the Supreme Court. However, there was no notification clearing the name of Justice Akil Kureshi for appointment as Chief Justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court.
Things escalated when on June 7, the Centre notified the appointment of Justice Ravi Shanker Jha as Acting Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court, thereby signalling that it had no intention to clear the file of Justice Kureshi.
These developments led the Gujarat High Court Advocates’ Association (GHCAA) to approach the Supreme Court, seeking a direction to the Central Government for the implementation of the Collegium’s May 2019 proposal to elevate Justice Kureshi to the Madhya Pradesh High Court.
While the petition was pending, the Central government returned the file of Kureshi J to the Collegium.