Subhro Mukherjee appointed Karnataka Chief Justice

Subhro Mukherjee appointed Karnataka Chief Justice

Even as appointments to higher judiciary are hanging fire, Justice Subhro Kamal Mukherjee, the seniormost judge of the Karnataka High Court, was today given the responsibilities of officiating as the Chief Justice of that High Court.

A Law Ministry statement said here that he will assume his new responsibility after the present incumbent Justice Dhirendra Hiralal Waghela relinquishes his charge following his transfer as the Chief Justice of the Orissa High Court.

Justice Waghela was transferred on April 11, two days before the government brought into force the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act which ended the over two-decade-old Collegium system.

While the collegium system of judges appointing judges has been done away with by a new law, the National Judicial Appointment Commission has still to begin its work.

The Supreme Court is hearing a petition challenging the validity of NJAC and the Chief Justice of India refused to take part in a meeting with the Prime Minister in the selection committee of the panel under the new law, thus leaving the new system in a limbo.

According to Law Ministry sources, Article 223 of the Constitution states that when the office of the Chief Justice of a High Court is vacant or when any such Chief Justice is, by reason of absence or otherwise, unable to perform the duties of his office, the duties shall be performed by such one of the other judges of the Court as the President may appoint for the purpose.

Law Ministry officials explained that the President has used his powers to ask Justice Mukherjee to perform the duties of the Chief Justice till a permanent appointment is made for the purpose.

They said while asking a judge to act as the Chief Justice of a High Court, the President may not consult the Chief Justice of India but he is kept updated on the appointment.

After the government notified the National Judicial Appointments Commission on April 13, the Collegium system has technically ceased to exist. NJAC has also not taken shape as the matter is pending before the apex court.

On May 7, using the same powers, the President had given Justice Dilip Babasaheb Bhosale, the seniormost judge of the Andhra Pradesh and Telangana High Court, the responsibilities of officiating as the Chief Justice of that High Court following the retirement of Chief Justice Kalyan Jyoti Sengupta. 

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