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Monday, January 18, 2010

J&K HC may get first woman judge in 2010
Shan, Seema, Magray, Neeru eying on 5 vacancies


SRINAGAR, Jan 18: With the three berths lying vacant and Mr Justice R C Gandhi, currently posted in Rajasthan High Court, reaching superannuation later this month, process of the appointment of few more judges for Jammu & Kashmir High Court is likely to go on fast track in a few days. Out of the sanctioned strength of 14 judges, Jammu & Kashmir High Court has currently a total of nine incumbents, two of them being from the states of West Bengal and Haryana. J&K has a total of 10 High Court judges, two of them being posted in Rajasthan and Punjab & Haryana High Courts.

After Mr Justice R C Gandhi’s retirement at Rajasthan High Court later this month, J&K will be left with one-odd transfer posting of Mr Justice Pramod Kohli, presently posted in Punjab & Haryana High Court, against two non-state judges, namely Chief Justice Mr Barin Ghosh (West Bengal) and Mr Justice Virendar Kohli (Haryana). With that development, J&K will have a total of nine High Court judges. Of them, Mr Justice Nisar Ahmed Kakroo, Mr Justice Pramod Kohli, Mr Justice, J P Singh, Mr Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attaar and Mr Justice Sunil Hali will be from the Bar quota while as Mr Justice Hakeem Imtiyaz Hussain, Mr Justice, Mansoor Ahmed Mir, Mr Justice Mohammad Yaqoob Mir and Mr Justice Hasnain Masoodi will be from the judicial service.

In the ratio of 60:40, J&K can have 9 High Court judges from Bar and 5 from the Service. By the end of current month, it will be left with just 5 from the Bar and 4 from the Service. In other words, irrespective of the posting of transfer judges and likely appointment of Mr Justice Kakroo as Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court, President of India would have to appoint 5 new High Court judges from Jammu & Kashmir, as and when such process comes to a logical conclusion from the Collegium (Chief Justice of J&K High Court, First Puisne and Second Puisne), Supreme Court of India and the Union Ministries of Law and Home.

The Collegium, comprising Chief Justice Mr Barin Ghosh, Mr Justice Nisar Ahmed Kakroo and Mr Justice Virender Singh, is understood to have nominated and recommended the state’s senior most District & Sessions Judge, A K Shan, to fill up the one-odd vacancy in Service quota. His appointment is likely to be precipitated after Mr Justice R C Gandhi’s retirement. Mr Justice Gandhi being from the Bar, a number of senior legal practitioners are said to be in the race with all of them eying on the four vacancies. Contenders, according to sources, include Senior Additional Advocate General (Kashmir), Ali Mohammad Magray, former Additional Advocate General (Jammu), Seema Shekhar Khajuria, and Deputy Advocate General, Neeru Goswami. Ten years continuous practice is the basic eligibility criterion for the Bar quota.

Since the state’s first ever woman District & Sessions Judge, Gaus-un-Nisa Jeelani, lately appointed as Principal District & Sessions Judge Srinagar, has bleak prospects of consideration after A K Shan’s nomination from the Collegium in the Service quota, advocate Seema Shekhar could be the beneficiary of Government of India’s newfound interest in having some female judges in all High Courts in the country. There has been considerable emphasis on it ever since Pratibha Patil began functioning as India’s first President. However, as of now, there is no reservation for appointment of female judges in the Indian High Courts.

Daughter of former Director General of Police, Manmohan Khajuria, Seema Shekhar, as well as wife of senior bureaucrat and Principal Secretary to Government Anil Goswami, Neeru Goswami, have the advantage of working as Government advocates from their day one in the Bar. Being from a family of remarkable bureaucratic, political and business background, Neeru Goswami too is being mentioned as a potential contender by a number of politicians and officials in Jammu.

In the middle rung of judiciary, J&K has presently a total of five women District & Sessions Judges in Gaus-un-Nisa jeelani, Kaneez Fatima, Swadesh Warikoo, Jyoti Bala and Nighat Sultana.


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