Tenure peppered with controversy
“For the better part of the last week, senior counsel and junior advocates alike have without compunction shared a story that the appeals by the private colleges will be allowed with a declaration that the MCI has no jurisdiction, and that Justice Dave will dissent from this view. The judgment, it is confidently touted, runs into more than 190 pages and in excess of 300 paragraphs. It is my fervent hope that this tale is false — a figment of some perverse and destructive mind. In a few hours, we will know the truth,” the advocate wrote.
Justice Kabir’s short tenure as the CJI — from September 29, 2012 till July 18, 2013 — was peppered with controversies: be it for the way the Sahara-Sebi tussle was heard out of turn by the CJI-headed bench when it was pending before another two-judge bench. Many were also puzzled when a CJI-headed bench took up the petition by Bharti chief Sunil Mittal and Essar promoter Shashi Ruia for quashing of summons in a 2G case when the case was pending before a separate bench. Selections for higher judiciary attracted attention due to some of the interesting choices by the collegium.
Shankarnarayan does not forget to give credit to Justice Kabir where it was due. “To be fair to Kabir, his demeanour as a judge saw very little change when he came to occupy this high office. He continued to be a complex man — tardy with sittings, patient with the junior bar, arbitrary with listings, and for the large part, good-humoured,” he wrote in the article.
“Last week, Chief Justice Bhattacharya of Gujarat leveled some hard-hitting criticism at (Justice) Kabir for having superseded him because he had objected to the latter’s sister being appointed to the Calcutta High Court merely a few months before she turned 60. Kabir’s rancour at this was evident when he took the unprecedented step of writing to the Government stating that Bhattacharya and two others had been overlooked by the Collegium “because their elevation as such would prove to be counter-productive and not conducive to administration of justice”,” he added.