Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Gujarat HC gets six new judges

Ahmedabad: Gujarat high court got six new judges with the Supreme Court elevating four judges from the lower judiciary and two members from the high court’s bar to posts of assistant judges. 
Senior members of the lower judiciary  Gautam Shah, Pradeep Bhatt, Bela Trivedi and Sonia Gokani  along with two high court lawyers Jamshed Pardiwala and Rashmin Chhaya have been appointed high court judges.
Shah is currently the high court’s registrar general, Gokani is registrar (administration), Bhatt is a presiding officer of a special CBI court and Trivedi is additional principal sessions judge in city civil court. Advocate Pardiwala has been standing counsel for the high court for a long period and has represented the court’s administrative side in many important cases.
The HC has two women judges already , Harsha Devnani and Abhilasha Kumari. Gokani was the designated Pota judge for a long time and presided over the highest number of terrorism related cases during the last decade. She gave verdicts in some sensational and controversial terror cases like the Akshardham temple attack and Haren Pandya murder case. Trivedi is presently designated judge to preside over another sensational case, the serial bomb blasts.
The much awaited appointments in the high court have come more than three years after four judges were appointed in November 2007. With appointment of six more judges, the high court’s strength will go up to 29, which is far below the sanctioned strength of 42.
Since the high court has been very short on strength for the last few years, its bar - the Gujarat High Court Advocates’ Association lately began making representations before higher authorities including the President requesting to expedite the appointment process. The lawyers’ association even went on two-day strike last week to protest against the non-appointment of judges and accused the Centre of discriminating against Gujarat due to political considerations.
The association president Yatin Oza is not satisfied with the development. "We welcome new appointments, but there should have been 12 new appointments. The Centre has thoroughly misguided the Supreme Court collegium," Oza said. He also claimed that with the appointments, Trivedi and Bhatt would be immediately transferred to other high courts. "Four judges are to retire within three months. This will again bring the strength to 23," he said.

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