Senior-Most High Court Judges Have Constitutional Right To Be Appointed As Chief Justices: Ex-CJI GB Patnaik

Former CJI Justice Gopala Ballav Patnaik on 10 April 2023, has opined that the senior-most Judge of every High Court has a constitutional right to be appointed as Chief Justice of a High Court. He said that merely because of introduction of the transfer policy, the appointing authorities must not ignore seniority of Judges.

On Saturday, Justice Patnaik spoke at a ceremony honoring previous Chief Justices and Judges of the Orissa High Court as part of the court’s 75th anniversary commemoration. A number of celebrities attended the occasion, including Supreme Court Justice BR Gavai and former CJI Justice Dipak Misra.”People at the helm of affairs, be it executive government prior to the second judges case or be it the collegium subsequent to the second judges case, whoever has been the appointing authority, Orissa High Court is being ignored in the matter of appointment of Chief Justices of High Courts and Judges of the Supreme Court,” Justice Patnaik said, expressing deep anguish over inadequate representation of the Orissa High Court in the matter of appointment of Chief Justices of High Courts and Judges of the Supreme Court.

“There is a convention, and I hope the convention continues,” he added, “that as far as possible, each High Court must be represented in the Supreme Court.” When three of us from this High Court [himself, Justice Deba Priya Mohapatra, and Justice Arijit Pasayat] with a Judge strength of 12 could be elevated to the Supreme Court in 2001, how is it that there has been no one from this Court in the Supreme Court for more than four years?”

It is worth noting that the Orissa High Court has been unrepresented in the Supreme Court since the retirement of the 45th Chief Justice of India, Justice Dipak Misra, in October 2018.

Another key point raised by Justice Patnaik was that when he was a Judge of the Orissa High Court, there was only one woman Judge, Justice Amiya Kumari Padhi. Furthermore, despite the fact that the number of Judges in the High Court has more than doubled, there is only one female Judge. (Justice Savitri Ratho). He argued that the number of female judges should be increased.

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