The Rajasthan High Court on Saturday bid farewell to its Chief Justice Akil Kureshi who is slated to demit office on Sunday.
In an emotional farewell speech, Justice Kureshi said that he is leaving the Bench with his pride intact since he made all his judicial decisions without being swayed by its consequences.
In the process, he might have bartered away his progress but he said that he would choose love and support of the Bar over 'progress".
"Each decision of mine was based on my legal understanding. I leave with my pride intact that I made no decision based on its consequence for me. Some believe that I should have made for the progress. But it depends on what you might consider to progress.
The love and affection that I have got from lawyers and collaegues wherever I went far outweighed any perceptible progress. I would not barter this for anything. If I ever I had to make choice between affection from all of you and the so called progress, I would gladly choose the former,” he said choking up.
Pertinently, he also adverted to media reports about former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi's autobiography as per which Justice Kureshi's transfer recommendation to Madhya Pradesh High Court was later changed to Tripura High Court due to some negative perception the government had about his judicial decisions.
"Recently a former CJI has written his biography. I have not read it but going by media reports, he has made certain disclosures. Regarding changing my recommendation from Madhya Pradesh to Tripura, it is stated that govt had some negative perception about me based on my judicial opinions. As a judge of constitutional court whose most primary duty is to protect fundamental and human rights of citizens, I consider it certificate of independence," he said.
"What was of greater significance to me was the perception of judiciary, which I have not been officially communicated," he added
While speaking about his tenure as a judge, Justice Kureshi summed up that he had no regrets at al, as each of his decision was based on his legal understanding.
He also advised the younger lawyers that success is sweeter which is achieved through straight paths.
"Failure which is a product of principled living is more satisfying than success found on compromises" he said.
Justice Akil Kureshi's tenure and transfers have been one of the most talked about aspects of the Collegium system in recent times.
The Bar has many a time objected to the manner in which the judge was transferred and eventually denied elevation to the Supreme Court despite being one of the most senior most High Court judges in the country.
In 2018, Justice Kureshi was transferred to the Bombay High Court when he was set to take over as Acting Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court, which is his parent High Court.
Justice R Subhash Reddy, the then Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court, had been elevated to the Supreme Court.
As per norm, the senior-most judge of the High Court would then automatically become Acting Chief Justice until a new Chief Justice is appointed.
However, in a resolution passed on October 29, 2018, the Supreme Court Collegium recommended the transfer of Justice Kureshi to the Bombay High Court as a puisne judge. While the reasons for this recommendation were unclear, the Collegium resolution stated that the same was made “in the interest of better administration of justice.”
The Central government cleared the said resolution within a few days; his transfer was notified on November 1 and he was asked to take charge at the Bombay High Court by November 15.
In view of this, he would serve as Acting Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court for only two weeks after the elevation of Justice Reddy to the apex court.
But the Centre seemed to take exception even to this short tenure, as it proceeded to notify that Justice AS Dave, the second senior most judge, would serve as Acting Chief Justice superseding Justice Kureshi.
This, in fact, seemed to have broken all norms. Even the Collegium took exception to it and conveyed the same to the Centre. The Centre then issued a new notification appointing Justice Kureshi as Acting Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court albeit for a short period of two weeks before he took charge as a judge of the Bombay High Court.
Later, in May 2019, the Collegium recommended the appointment of Justice Kureshi, who was serving at the Bombay High Court, as Chief Justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court.
The Central government sat on the recommendation for some time before it sent back Justice Kureshi’s file in August 2019.
The Collegium gave in when on September 20, it modified its earlier resolution and resolved to appoint Justice Kureshi as Chief Justice of the Tripura High Court instead of the Madhya Pradesh High Court.
Both the 2018 and 2019 incidents had triggered objections from the Bar, with the Gujarat High Court Advocates Association filing petitions on both occasions before the Supreme Court regarding the same