In an unprecedented show of strength and unity towards a high court judge, the entire fraternity of the Gujarat High Court lawyers and senior advocates, under the umbrella of the Gujarat High Court Advocates’ Association (GHCAA) went on an indefinite strike on Thursday against the proposed transfer of Justice Nikhil S Kariel from Gujarat High Court to Patna High Court.
The GHCAA said that it will send a representation to thew Chief Justice of India and the members of the Supreme Court collegium to express its displeasure against Justice Kariel’s transfer order.
In the morning, hundreds of lawyers, including senior advocates, gathered in the court hall of Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court to protest the proposed transfer of Justice Kariel.
When questioned by Chief Justice Arvind Kumar, the lawyers said Justice Kariel’s proposed transfer was “the death of independence of judiciary” and they wished to observe two minutes of silence. “With the proposed transfer of Justice Kariel, there has been a death of independence of judiciary. We are here to observe two minutes’ silence for the same,”a senior advocate said.
The live streaming of the court was paused as Chief Justice Kumar began to address the lawyers, and resumed only after the lawyers started exiting the court hall.
The Supreme Court Collegium’s decision to transfer Justice Kariel was taken on Wednesday evening. Justice Kariel was born on May 9, 1974 and enrolled as an advocate with Bar Council of Gujarat in the year 1998 and practiced in the areas of service law, civil and criminal laws. He was elevated as judge of the Gujarat High Court on October 4, 2020.
Here’s the note issued by the GHCAA:
The members of the Bar have unanimously decided to strongly oppose and show displeasure on the recommendation of the collegium of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India the transfer of Committee Members Hon’ble Mr. Justice Nikhil S. Kariel, Judge. High Court of Gujarat Khushbu Vyas to Patna High Court. Justice Kariel is one of the finest, honest, upright and unbiased Judge whose integrity and honesty is being vouched by the entire Bar in one voice.
To show solidarity today (Thursday) at 12 o’clock all members of the Bar in unprecedented numbers gathered in the court of Hon’ble the Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court to mourn the death of independence of judiciary and to observe 2 minutes’ silence. It was conveyed to the Hon’ble Chief Justice in open court that entire bar has unanimously expressed anguish on the reports of transfer of Hon’ble Justice Kariel.
The Senior members of bar also requested that the feeling of the Bar be conveyed to Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India and other Hon’ble Judges of the Collegium.
Thereafter at 02:00 pm an Extraordinary General Body Meeting of the GHCAA was convened and in that meeting there was unprecedented presence of members who in one voice resolved at follows: “To abstain from court proceedings instantaneously 1.e. from 02:30 pm today (Thursday) and to further have a representation sent to Hon’ble Chief Justice of India and other Judges of the collegium and other Hon’ble Judges of this court who are now presiding as Judges of Supreme Court of India to reconsider the recommendation of transfer of Hon’ble Justice Kariel.
It was also resolved to send a delegation of five members of Bar with In-charge President and Secretary of Association to meet the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India and to request him to reconsider the transfer.
It is also resolved by the Association to postpone the By-Elections to the post of President GHCAA which was to be held on 18.11.2022 to a future date that may be notified and decided by an Election Officer.
It is resolved that the General Secretary to inform the Hon’ble Chief Justice and request the Hon’ble Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court to convey to Judges of this Hon’ble Court that no adverse orders may be passed in absence of the learned Advocates.
In such an unprecedented situation it has been unanimously decided by the members of the Bar that there shall be protest and strong opposition against such steps and the members of the Bar will protest indefinitely till the issue is resolved by the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India and the Collegium.
It is reiterated that the transfer of such an honest and upright Judge for which the entire Bar is vouching in one voice is not in right taste and is being strongly opposed as it strikes at the Rule of Law and Independence of Judiciary which are two prime edifices on which our Constitution rests. It is also resolved that the office-bearers of the Bar along with designated Senior Advocates may convey the feeling of the Bar to all concerned including Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India and other Hon’ble Judges of the collegium.
All members of the Bar will hold a peaceful protest on this issue at Gate No 2 of Gujarat High Court on 18.11.2022 at 10:30 am. It is further resolved that the next meeting to review the situation and further decision will be taken at 10:30 AM on Monday, 21.11.2022.