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Supreme Court Collegium recommends appointment of 2 judicial officers, 2 advocates as judges of Jammu and Kashmir High Court

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The Supreme Court Collegium has approved the recommendation of two Judicial Officers (Mohan Lal and Mohd. Akram Chowdhary) as Judges in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.  

In its meeting held on September 1, the Collegium also resolved to reiterate its earlier recommendations for elevation of two Advocates [Rahul Bharti and Moksha Kazmi (Khajuria)] as Judges in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has a sanctioned strength of 17 Judges comprises of 13 permanent judges and 4 additional judges. 

However, according to the list of Judges declared by the Department of Justice, under the Law and Justice Ministry, as on September 1, 2021, there are currently 11 sitting judges (permanent) at Jammu and at present, there is no Additional judge in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.

After the approval of recommended strength, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court will have 15 sitting judges.

Advocate Moksha Kazmi ( Khajuria)

Khajuria-Kazmi is an advocate who has served as Additional Advocate General during Governor’s rule in 2016 and later continued to serve in the Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP-BJP government in J&K.

In March 2019, the J&K High Court collegium, led by then Chief Justice Gita Mittal, had initiated the process of appointment for four advocates: Khajuria-Kazmi; Oswal; Javed Iqbal Wani; and Rahul Bharti.

On October 15, 2019, the SC collegium first took up the recommendations of Khajuria-Kazmi and Oswal followed by Wani’s on January 22, 2019 and Rahul Bharti’s on March 2, 2021.

The Central Government has raised red-flag over the recommendation of her name to be a judge of the J&K High Court, it was decided to overlook the reference.  The reason behind this was the sudden rise in the income of Kazmi as her average annual income between 2012 and 2016 — three financial years — was between Rs 2.50 lakh and 3.25 lakh, it jumped to Rs 12 lakh and Rs 15 lakh in the fiscals 2016-17 and 2017-18, respectively.

But the Supreme Court has looked into the matter and added, “There was nothing on record to suggest that this so-called sudden rise was due to some illegal activities or manipulation in the candidate’s real income.”

Senior Advocate Rahul Bharti

Senior Advocate Rahul Bharti joined the Bar in February, 1991 upon being provisionally enrolled as an advocate with the Bar Council of Jammu & Kashmir and later enrolled on the Rolls of Advocates dated February 22, 1993. He has practiced more than twenty eight years at the Bar having conducted and conducting cases on original, civil as well as criminal side, and also on the appellate and writ jurisdiction side. He had conducted and handled litigation of varied nature such as Industrial, Labour, Consumer, Cooperative, Revenue, Motor Accidents Claims, Banking, Taxation (excluding Income Tax), Arbitration & Service matters. Rahul Bharti was designated as Senior Advocate of J&K High Court on December 15, 2020.

Also Read: Calcutta HC: Supreme Court Collegium recommends 2 advocates, 4 judicial officers for elevation as judges

Mohd. Akram Chowdhary, Judge

Shri Mohd. Akram Chowdhary has entered into service on 1/4/1995 and currently posted as Principal District & Sessions Judge, Srinagar. He is also a Member Secretary of National Legal Services Authority (Jammu Kashmir).

Mohan Lal, Judge

Mohan Lal is currently posted as Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division)/ACJM at Allahabad. He entered in the service on 23/03/2001 as Civil Judge (JD) posted at Allahabad and promoted as CJ/CJ(SD) on October 16, 2006.

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