Justice Jayant Patel of Karnataka High Court resigned yesterday protesting over his non-elevation as Chief Justice of High Court.
It is widely believed that Justice Patel was handed out a raw deal because he had failed to toe the line of the executive while he was a judge of the Gujarat High Court.
Senior Advocate Yatin Oza has time and again pointed out the unfair treatment meted out to Justice Jayant Patel. In an interview to Bar & Bench, Oza had said,
“Likewise, Justice Jayant Patel was transferred to Karnataka as ‘number four’ judge? What was his fault – that he passed a judgement directing CBI investigation into the ‘quadruple murder’…
“During the (Ishrat Jahan) encounter cases, (former) Chief Justice Mukhopadhaya had assigned all the matters to Justice Patel. There are people who are critics of Justice Patel, but none of his critics can say that he is a judge who will compromise his honesty and integrity. They wanted Justice Patel to act according to their wishes. But he is one judge who will never, ever ditch the Constitution.”
Oza has now strongly hit out at the Collegium for succumbing to the pressure of the Executive.
“It is the saddest day for Indian judiciary. Justices Hegde, Shelat, Grover and Khanna resigned at a time when judiciary had no say in the appointments. However, today is the saddest day because this has happened despite the Collegium being the appointing authority.”
He did not mince his words in criticising the Supreme Court Collegium:
“Spineless Collegium is acting as per the whims and caprice of the Government. This will sound the death-knell for the independence of the judiciary. This will also be a signal to the judges to toe the line of the government. The message that will go is that the judges are under the government, Collegium is its slave.
Now every judge will think twice before deciding a case against the government, not because they are afraid of the government but because they cannot trust the Collegium which has become a puppet in the hands of the government.”
Oza also said that he will move a resolution in the Gujarat High Court Advocates Association (GHCAA) to abstain from work in all courts in Gujarat for two days.
“If there is no unanimity with regard to moving such a resolution in the GHCAA, I will move it in my personal capacity”, he said.