An activists’ network in Chhattisgarh is collecting signatures for an online petition seeking suspension of Justice Jagdish Bhalla’s transfer from the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court to the Chhattisgarh High Court.
Justice Bhalla, the seniormost judge of the Lucknow bench, was earlier recommended by the Supreme College collegium for appointment as Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court.
The Committee on Judicial Accountability, an NGO headed by former Union Law Minister Shanti Bhushan had written to the President, Chief Justice of India and the Speaker of the Lok Sabha alleging corruption in the acquisition of a plot in Noida by Justice Bhalla’s wife. A group of social activists in Kerala, headed by eminent litterateur Sukumar Azhikode, demanded that Justice Bhalla should get his name cleared before taking over as Chief Justice in Kerala.
The President returned the file to the Government of India, which sent it back to the CJI. The Supreme Court collegium, which considered the matter afresh, recommended that Justice Bhalla be transferred to Chhattisgarh, instead of being posted as Chief Justice in Kerala. Simultaneously, it recommended transfer of Justice H.L. Dattu, Chief Justice of Chhattisgarh High Court as Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court.
The online petition points out that on taking charge in Chhattisgarh, Justice Bhalla, as the seniormost judge, will become acting Chief Justice of the High Court. Pointing out that the allegations of corruption raised against him have not been refuted by any independent investigation, it says, “Under these circumstances, it will be best for Justice Jagdish Bhalla to clear his name before assuming charge in Chhattisgarh high court. This move will retain public perception on the neutrality and honesty of the Indian judiciary.”
The online petition is at www. petitiononline.com/cgcourt/petition.html (please cut and paste)