New Delhi: The Supreme Court today stayed the Gujarat High Court order issuing notices to its sitting and former judges and also a sitting apex court judge over the allotment of residential plots to them by the state government in a posh locality in Sola area in Ahmedabad. “The high court was in mortal hurry. This should not have happened. Let the order be stayed. Let us see what can be done,” a bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu said.
The high court had yesterday also referred the matter to a larger bench after framing a set of questions related to its suo motu PIL on the issue.
The apex court bench also comprising Justices P C Ghose and C Nagappan issued notices to the Gujarat government, judges cooperative society and Registrar of the High Court, seeking their response within four weeks on a petition challenging the high court order.
The apex court also allowed deletion of names of sitting and former judges who were made respondents in the PIL and were issued notices.
The petition challenging the high court order was filed by one of the retired high court judges for whom senior advocate Harish Salve appeared and sought urgent intervention.
Salve questioned the hurry shown by the high court in entertaining a letter by turning it into PIL over allotment of plots which was made several years ago. “It is not good,” said Salve while assailing the high court order.
The apex court also allowed Gujarat High Court Bar Association to be impleaded as party in a petition before it. The high court had on August 10 issued notices to the state government and 27 sitting as well as former judges, including that of the Supreme Court, over allotment of residential plots in the city after converting letters written by two former high court judges into a public interest litigation.
Yesterday, the high court had, while referring the matter to a larger bench, raised questions like—who among the judges are not alloted plot in the society? whether the allotment is done after the formation of the cooperative housing society and how can judges be given land on individual basis when a cooperative society is formed?
It had asked whether any falsity was done in giving land at such premium places and whether any advertisement was given in the media for the sale of such land? Whether the sale deed of the society has incurred loss to the state ex-chequer or not?
The letters, written by two former high court judges (K R Vyas and B J Sethna) which were converted into a public interest litigation (PIL), deal with allotment of plots to judges at Neetibaug Cooperative Housing Society in Sola area.
The letters question the manner in which the plots were alloted, citing alleged irregularities and breach of norms. “Serious complaint has been made in the letters (written by the two former judges) and after deliberation with a heavy heart, this suo motu PIL has been taken up.
It involves judges of this court who are performing constitutional duties. This is an era of transparency where everything has to be before the public and no one can claim that they are above the law,” the Gujarat HC had said.
It had sought clarifications from the Ahmedabad collector, Gujarat government, eight sitting judges of the Gujarat High Court, 15 former HC judges, one sitting judge of the Supreme Court, one retired Supreme Court judge, the Chief Justices of Orissa HC and Bombay HC.