Punjab & Haryana HC has 11 ‘uncle judges’
Chandigarh, November 28
The list was sent in response to a communication received by the high court from the ministry. In the beginning of this year, the ministry had asked the high courts across the country to identify and furnish the list of all such judges.
The issue of ‘uncle judges’ in the Punjab and Haryana High Court was first raised by the then Chief Justice B.K. Roy during his tenure from October 14, 2002, to March 20, 2005.
He had issued an administrative order barring a group of 10-12 judges from hearing any case argued by their relatives.
In his order, Justice Roy had said: “It was generally believed that A, B, C and D (all judges) constituted a mutual cooperative society in the sense it was believed that each of the four judges (A, B, C and D) would protect the sons of the three other judges.” The order at that time had led to widespread protests.
Available information suggests that some of the judges do have their sons, daughters and brothers, and also their nephews and brothers-in-law practising in the same court.
The list earlier forwarded by the high court mentions the names of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, Justice Ashutosh Mohunta, Justice M.M. Kumar, Justice S.K. Mittal. Justice Hemant Gupta, Justice V.K. Sharma, Justice TPS Mann, Justice S.D. Anand, Justice K.C. Puri, Justice K.S. Ahluwalia, Justice Sabina, Justice Jora Singh, Justice M.S. Sullar, Justice Gurdev Singh and Justice Harbans Lal.
Justice Anand and Justice Lal have since retired upon attaining the age of superannuation, while Justice Mohanta and Justice Sharma have been transferred out.
In an exclusive interview, Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily had told The Tribune that the Law Ministry was asking the judges to give an undertaking at the time of their elevation that they would not function in the same court where their relatives were practising.
Moily’s assertion had come in the presence of attorney-general Goolam E. Vahanvati, additional solicitor-general Mohan Jain and Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda at a ceremony to felicitate the law minister.
The Law Commission too had discussed the issue in its 230th report. The commission had made it clear that it was against the policy of transferring Chief Justices and he should rather be from the same high court. But while making appointment of judges, advocates with kith and kin practising in a high court, should not be posted in the same high court. This would eliminate ‘uncle judges’, it said.