The Supreme Court Bar Association President and senior advocate Dushyant Dave has written two strongly worded letters to the Chief Justice of India HL Dattu and the judges on the collegium that decides on the appointment of Supreme Court judges, arguing against the possible elevation Chief Justice of Mumbai High Court Mohit Shah to the Supreme Court.
In a letter dated 6 February, Dave, after stating that Shah had been earlier considered and rejected for elevation, cites the 1993 Constitutional Bench judgment that established the collegium and adds that “reconsideration of the Chief Justice Mr Mohit S. Shah case would not only be contrary to the Constitutional Bench judgment, which binds you as well, but would be grossly improper and will seriously impact the reputation and goodwill of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India.”
The letter goes on to raise “one more disturbing fact,” which relates to the bail granted by the Supreme Court to Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin trial while transferring the cases from Gujarat to Mumbai. Dave quotes the Supreme Court judgment according to which the administrative committee of the High Court “would assign the case to a court where the trial may be concluded judiciously, in accordance with law, and without any delay. The Administrative Committee would also ensure that the trial should be conducted from beginning to end by the same officer.”
The letter goes on to state, “Yet, the Hon’ble Bombay High Court,of which Justice Mohit S. Shah is the Chief Justice, did not follow this specific mandamus.” Dave argues that, as a result, “the Learned Trial Judge was changed on one pretext or the other three or four times without seeking leave of this Hon’ble Court. Ultimately, what happened is well known. I am not on merits of a Judicial Order that may have been passed in favor of Mr Amit Shah, but on the act of commission or omission on the part of Chief Justice Mr. Mohit S. Shah as Head of the Bombay High Court.”
Dave has followed up this letter with another dated 11 February, where he cites another Gujarat High Court case dating back to August 2007 that relates to sales tax and other exemptions worth Rs 10,000 crore granted to Essar Oil Limited. According to Dave, the case was first heard by Justice Shah and subsequently, after a change of roster, came up before chief justice YR Meena. The case was transferred back to Justice Shah after Essar filed an affidavit before the bench headed by Justice YR Meena, stating the case had already been heard and disposed of by Shah.