No clarity on extension to Justice Girish Agnihotri

Name not on cause list of cases to be heard by HC today

No clarity on extension to Justice Girish Agnihotri

Saurabh Malik

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25

Two years after he was elevated as an Additional Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Justice Girish Agnihotri’s name was missing from the cause list of cases to be heard by the Benches on Tuesday, indicating that he would not be holding the court. The cause list was released this evening.

Justice Agnihotri was administered oath on October 26, 2019, and his term as an additional judge was to expire today. The Supreme Court collegium earlier this month approved the proposal for appointment of 10 additional judges as permanent in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. But his name was not included in the list.

While the judges recommended by the Supreme Court for appointment as permanent were administered oath today, confusion continued to prevail regarding Justice Agnihotri’s status till late evening. So far, there is no clarity whether he has been granted an extension. This is the first time in recallable past that such a situation has arisen in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The only other recallable case in which an additional judge’s term was not initially extended was during the Emergency. Information suggests journalist Kuldip Nayyar was arrested under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act — an action challenged by his wife before the Delhi High Court.

The matter was placed before the Bench of Justice S Rangarajan and Justice Rajendra Nath Aggarwal. It is believed the state simply refused to disclose to the Bench the material on the basis of which the detention order had been passed.

The Bench allowed the petition and ordered his release, making it clear that the right to a writ of habeas corpus had not been suspended. Both the judges were “punished”. Justice Rangarajan was transferred to Sikkim and Justice Aggarwal’s term as an additional judge was not extended. As a result, Justice Aggarwal was reverted to his former position as a district judge in Delhi. The end of Emergency saw Justice Aggarwal’s elevation permanently to the Delhi High Court. He went on to serve as its Chief Justice.

Meanwhile, Justice Sureshwar Thakur was today administered oath as a judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, following his transfer from the Himachal Pradesh High Court. Ten Punjab and Haryana High Court Judges were also administered oath as permanent. The judges included Justice Suvir Sehgal, Justice Alka Sarin, Justice Jasgurpreet Singh Puri, Justice Ashok Kumar Verma, Justice Sant Parkash and Justice Meenakshi I Mehta.

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