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Justice Patel Who Ordered CBI Probe In Ishrat Case Reveals Why He Quit

NEW DELHI:  Karnataka High Court judge Jayant M Patel, who had ordered a CBI investigation in the 2004 Ishrat Jahan encounter case in Gujarat, told NDTV that he has put in his papers because he is not keen on going to Allahabad on transfer.

Asked if his decision to order the CBI inquiry had affected his elevation as Chief Justice of any high court, Justice Patel said, “No comments.”

Justice Patel is the senior-most judge of the Karnataka High Court, next to the Chief Justice Subhro Kamal Mukherjee who retires in the middle of October.

The move to transfer Justice Patel to Allahabad High Court came when he had just a little over 10 months ahead of his retirement.

Justice Patel explained the sequence of events that led him to resign.

“Two facts are very clear….Chief Justice of India asked my comments on September 22 on my proposed transfer to Allahabad… I was not keen to go to Allahabad… So I submitted by resignation on 25 September to the President of India,” he told NDTV on phone from Bengaluru.

Asked why he did not want to go to Allahabad High Court, Justice Patel said, “”I want to be in Bengaluru for the next ten months”.

The decision to transfer Justice Patel within 20 months of bring appointed to Karnataka has prompted protests from lawyers at the Gujarat high court, where he practised law and was elevated to the Bench as an additional judge in 2001.

He had continued as a judge at the Gujarat High Court till August 2015 when he was appointed Acting Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court. Six months later, he was, however, transferred to the Karnataka High Court as a judge.

In a statement, the Gujarat high court bar association on Tuesday said it would abstain from work on Wednesday to protest the judge’s transfer that the association said, came “on the eve of his likely appointment as acting chief justice or chief justice of the Karnataka High Court”.

The association also decided to move the Supreme Court challenging the transfer of Justice Patel and the larger issue of transparency in judge selection process by the Collegium, a committee of the top court’s senior-most judges.

Justice Patel had ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation probe in the Ishrat Jahan case in November 2011 after a special team concluded that the encounter allegedly involving 20 police officers was “not genuine”.

The case pertains to 19-year-old college girl Ishrat Jahan, her friend Javed Sheikh alias Pranesh along with two others being gunned down by crime branch officials in an alleged encounter on June 15, 2004 on the outskirts of the city.

The case is still pending before a trial court. Last week, the CBI told the court that there was enough evidence against PP Pandey, the retired police officer who had retired as Gujarat police chief.