New Delhi: In a major reshuffle, the Delhi high court has ordered the transfer of over 100 sitting judges of Delhi district courts with immediate effect.
Among them is additional chief metropolitan magistrate Vishal Pahuja, who had been presiding over the criminal defamation case filed by former Union minister M.J. Akbar against journalist Priya Ramani, in connection with the alleged sexual harassment by Akbar. Pahuja has been transferred from Rouse Avenue district court, which is set up to hear cases against parliamentarians and legislators, to Karkadooma district court as senior civil judge-cum-rent controller. Ravindra Kumar Pandey will replace him.
On Wednesday, November 18, registrar general of the Delhi high court, Manoj Jain, issued an order listing out the names of 168 judges who were transferred, and another 47 judicial officers who were inducted to be metropolitan magistrates. In all, this order affects 215 serving and new judicial officers.
The latest reshuffle comes close on the heels of the November 13 order where the high court had listed 16 promotions to the post of Delhi higher judicial services, according to a Hindustan Times report.
Prominent among them were the promotion of chief metropolitan magistrate Purshottam Pathak who was hearing cases pertaining to the northeast Delhi riots, and chief metropolitan magistrate Gurmohina Kaur who was hearing cases relating to the foreign nationals who had participated in the Tablighi Jamaat congregation at Nizamuddin Markaz in March.
Although the transfer of judges is a routine affair, it is likely to delay the disposal of cases, as the judges who replace their colleagues may have to hear the arguments from various sides again.
In the M.J. Akbar defamation case, Ramani’s lawyers have completed their final arguments, and Akbar’s lawyers are about to complete their response to the arguments. Ramani had levelled allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment against Akbar, who sued her and resigned from the Union council of ministers in 2018.