Chandigarh, September 26
The sudden transfer of Justice Dharam Chand Chaudhary, the senior-most Judicial Member-cum-Head of Department of the Chandigarh Bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has kicked up a controversy, with the bar association terming the move as a direct assault on judicial independence and asking its members to abstain from work.
According to orders issued by the AFT Chairperson on Monday, Justice Chaudhary has been transferred to the Kolkata Bench with immediate effect “for administrative reasons in public interest”, sources privy to the development said.
In a resolution passed on Tuesday, the AFT Chandigarh Bench Bar Association said that “in view of the shocking development of the sudden, unethical and uncalled for transfer of Justice Chaudhary, which is a direct attack on the independence of judiciary, the AFT Bar association shall abstain from work till further orders.”
Justice Chaudhary, who was the Acting Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court before being appointed to the Tribunal, had joined the Chandigarh Bench in September 2021 and has a residual service till February 2025, sources said.
The Bar has also raised some issues regarding the administrative functioning of the AFT with the Chief Justice of India, DY Chandrachud, and averred that the transfer is because strict orders were being passed against senior government officials for non-implementations of AFT judgments.
Pointing out that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is a compulsive litigant in all cases before the AFT and is also known not to implement judicial orders, mostly pertaining to disabled soldiers, widows and old pensioners, passed against it, the letter to the Chief Justice mentions that over 2,000 execution/contempt proceeding are pending before the Chandigarh Bench.
According to orders issued on September 5, henceforth all execution/contempt cases from all AFT benches across the country are to be listed only before the Chairperson’s court in New Delhi.
Referring to an earlier letter written to the Chief Justice by the Bar alleging interference in judicial matters by the Defence Secretary by way of seeking a report and analysis of orders passed by the Tribunal, the Bar has urged the Chief Justice to quash the said transfer orders and remove the AFT immediately from the control of the MoD so that the confidence of litigants and the legal fraternity is not threatened.
The issue of the AFT functioning under the administrative control of the MoD has also seen judicial intervention.
The case for moving the AFT under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Law is pending before the Supreme Court.
Most Read In 24 Hours
Don't MissView All
Supreme Court to deliver verdict on petitions challenging nullification of Article 370 on December 11
Five-judge Constitution Bench had reserved the verdict on Se...
Next hearing soon, closely following matter and extending al...
Sonia Gandhi, Mallikarjun Kharge, Rahul, Priyanka attend the...
Flags concerns to US, Canada over Pannun’s threat to Air Ind...