The Gujarat High Court judge who refused to stay Congress MP Rahul Gandhi’s conviction in the criminal defamation case over his ‘Modi surname’ remark features in the Supreme Court Collegium’s latest list of recommendations for transfer. Justice Hemant M Prachchhak, in a 123-page verdict passed in July, observed that no case was made out to stay the conviction.
Justice Prachchhak was earlier one of the lawyers defending former BJP minister Maya Kodnani, an accused in the 2002 Gujarat riots case.
Justice Prachak reportedly began practice as a lawyer in the Gujarat High Court, and thereafter went on to work as assistant pleader of the Gujarat government under then Chief Minister Narendra Modi. In 2015, after Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister, he was appointed the Union government’s standing counsel for the High Court of Gujarat, which went on till 2019.
In 2021, he was appointed a judge of the Gujarat High Court.
In addition to Justice Prachchhak, the list also includes Justice Samir Dave who had recently stepped aside from hearing activist Teesta Setalvad’s request to dismiss an FIR regarding alleged fabrication of evidence in the 2002 Godhra riots case, and Justice Gita Gopi who had recently stepped from hearing Rahul Gandhi’s plea to suspend his conviction.
Justice Samir Dave had recently courted controversy for his “Manusmriti” reference while hearing a minor rape survivor’s plea for permission to terminate her pregnancy.
“Ask your mother or great-grandmother. Fourteen-fifteen was the maximum age (for marriage), and girls used to give birth to their first child before turning 17. And girls get mature before boys….Though you may not read, but you should read Manusmriti once,” Justice Dave said in oral observations.
Four judges from the Punjab and Haryana High Court, and one from the Allahabad High Court, also feature in the list of nine recommended names.
The decision was taken by the Collegium consisting of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Justice Sanjiv Khanna, Justice BR Gavai, and Justice Surya Kant in its meeting held on August 3. The Collegium resolution, which was uploaded last night, said that the transfers are being recommended “for better administration of justice.
With inputs from NDTV