Justice Bhalla Named CJ of Himachal HC

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New Delhi, Jan 18 (UNI) The elevation of a Chhattisgarh High Court Judge as Chief Justice of the Himachal Pradesh High Court was announced today in a move critics dubbed ''shameful.'' The announcement of Justice Jagdish Bhalla's elevation was preceded by an announcement of transfer of the Chief Justices of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand HCs.

Uttarakhand HC Chief Justice Rajeev Gupta was transferred as Chhattisgarh HC Chief Justice and Himachal Pradesh HC Chief Justice Vinod Kumar Gupta as Uttarakhand HC Chief Justice.

The announcement by the Law and Justice Ministry said both ''have been directed to assume charge of their respective office'' by February 2.

The announcement of Justice Bhalla's elevation ''with effect from the date he assumes charge of his office'' followed a minute later.

Justice Bhalla's elevation as Chief Justice had long been on the cards but kept getting deferred following public criticism by such leading advocates as Fali Nariman and Shanti Bhushan.

Mr Nariman, former MP, and former Law Ministers Shanti Bhushan and Ram Jethmalani had sought investigation and impeachment against Justice Bhalla over an alleged shady land deal.

''It's shameful that both the judiciary and the executive have turned a deaf ear to the very clear, strong, cogent and serious chargesheet that was released by such eminent legal personalities,'' said Mr Prashant Bhushan, a spokesman for a campaign for accountability in Indian Judiciary.

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