Apex court stays Gujarat HC order on allotment of plot to judges

The Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed the Gujarat High Court (HC) order issuing notices to its sitting and former judges and also an apex court judge over the allotment of residential plots to them in 2008 by the state government in a posh locality in Ahmedabad.

A three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice H L Dattu directed for deletion of names of judges, sitting as well as retired ones, from the PIL challenging allotment of plots. “The HC was in a hurry. Let the order be stayed. Let us see what can be done,” the bench comprising Justices P C Ghose and Abhay Manohar Sapre said.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for one of the retired judges, challenged the HC order of August 10. He sought an urgent hearing of the case after a letter was sent to the HC. The judges, who were issued notices by the HC, included sitting Supreme Court judge, Justice Anil R Dave, Bombay High Court Chief Justice M S Shah, Orissa HC Chief Justice D H Waghela and eight sitting judges of the Gujarat HC.

Two former judges of the Gujarat HC Justices B J Shethna and K R Vyas had written letters to the HC complaining about the non-allotment of plots in their favour at Nitibaug Judges Cooperative Housing Society. The letters were treated as PIL by the HC.

The apex court issued notice to the Gujarat government and others seeking their response within four weeks.

 It also allowed Gujarat High Court Bar Association to be treated as party in a petition before it.

The HC had on August 11 referred the matter to a larger bench to decide how the other judges were not alloted plot and if the allotment was done after the formation of the cooperative housing society and how judges could be given land on individual basis when a cooperative society was formed.

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