Chandigarh, September 25
Justice Dharam Chand Chaudhary, the senior-most Judicial Member-cum-Head of Department of the Chandigarh Bench, of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT), has been transferred to the Kolkata Bench with immediate effect.
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.
According to orders issued by the AFT Chairperson on Monday, the transfer is “for administrative reasons in public interest,” sources privy to the development said.
The Chandigarh Bench has jurisdiction over thestates of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradeshand the UT of Chandigarh, with thousands of cases, mostly pertaining to disability benefits and service matters pending before it.
The sudden move to transfer Justice Chaudhary has prompted the AFT Chandigarh Bench Bar Association to write to the Chief Justice of India, averring that it is a direct assault on the independence of the judiciary because strict orders were being passed against senior Government officials for non-implementations of AFT judgments.
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, Chaudhary, the letter states that Justice Chaudhary has been moved out because he refused to buckle under pressure from the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
Stating that the MoD is a compulsive litigant in all cases before the AFT and is also known not to implement judicial orders passed against it, the Bar has urged the Chief Justice to take action in the matter by treating this letter as a petition and quashing the said transfer which is a “colourable exercise of power” and by removing the AFT immediately from the control of the MoD so that the confidence of litigants and the legal fraternity is not threatened.
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