Lost SC berth for opposing HC judgeship for CJI Kabir's sister: Guj CJ

FPBhaskar Bhattacharya

Gujarat High Court Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya has complained that Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir — who retires on July 18 — blocked his elevation to the Supreme Court earlier this year because, as a member of the collegium of the Calcutta High Court, he had opposed the appointment of CJI Kabir's lawyer sister to the Bench, a decision he said was tantamount to "rape" of the court.

Lost SC berth for opposing HC judgeship for CJI Kabir's sister: Guj CJ

On September 13, 2010, the CJI's sister, Shukla Kabir Sinha, was appointed to the bench of the Calcutta HC after the HC collegium ignored Justice Bhattacharya's written submission on why she should not be appointed to the post.

CJI Kabir — then a senior judge of the apex court — was a member of the SC collegium that considered the HC's recommendation. However, sources said he had recused himself from the meeting.

On March 19 this year, after being overlooked for elevation to the Supreme Court by a collegium headed by CJI Kabir, Chief Justice Bhattacharya, who was the third seniormost High Court Chief Justice at the time, sent a 10-page letter to the President of India, Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of India.

Two other High Court CJs — Bombay High Court CJ Mohit S Shah and Uttarakhand High Court CJ Barin Ghosh — too were overlooked for elevation.

In his letter to the CJI, accessed by The Indian Express, Chief Justice Bhattacharya wrote: "As a human being, I have a reasonable basis to apprehend that the fact that as a member of the collegium while I was a judge of the Calcutta HC, I raised serious objections against the elevation of Smt Shukla Kabir Sinha, your (CJI Altamas Kabir's) younger sister, is the real reason for making such observations against me."

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