Four judges of the Gujarat High Court — Justices S R Brahmbhatt, Harsha Devani, V B Mayani and V P Patel are due to retire this year.
The Supreme Court Collegium headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde, in its meeting held on Wednesday, approved the proposal for elevation of four judicial officers as Judges of the Gujarat High Court (HC), two of whom had conducted trials in the post-Godhra riot cases.
All four judicial officers — Ilesh Vora, Gita Gopi, Ashokkumar C Joshi and Rajendra M Sareen – are currently serving as the principal district and sessions judge in the courts of Gandhinagar, Rajkot, Vadodara and Anand respectively.
Notably, both Sareen and Gopi were among the judges specially appointed to conduct trials in the nine post-Godhra riot cases which were re-investigated by the SIT under supervision of the Supreme Court.
In May 2012, R M Sareen was the additional sessions judge of Anand district court, presiding over the trial in a post-Godhra riot case in which three of a family in Malav Bhagol locality of Ode were killed on March 1, 2002. Nine accused were convicted to life while 31 others were acquitted. The Gujarat High Court had issued transfer orders a day before he was expected to pronounce the verdict.
Gopi, who at the time was the principal district judge of Sabarkantha, and was conducting trial in the case related to the killing of three British nationals at Prantij during the 2002 riots, was also transferred to Ahmedabad city court in May 2014. At the time, Gopi was about to conclude the trial in the case in which four persons, three of them British, were killed near Prantij in February 2002.
Gopi, who was also designated the CBI judge at the Ahmedabad city court, had tried the Ishrat Jahan encounter case. In August 2013, Gopi who was the special CBI judge, had rejected the anticipatory bail plea for one of the accused police officer, former DGP P P Pandey. Rejecting Pandey's bail, the CBI special judge observed, "If the applicant is granted anticipatory bail, there are all chances that the witness may be put under threat and fear... The conduct of the applicant shows that he doesn't want to voluntarily cooperate with the investigation." Later Pandey was the first to be discharged from the case.
Four judges of the Gujarat High Court — Justices S R Brahmbhatt, Harsha Devani, V B Mayani and V P Patel are due to retire this year. Justice Brahmbhatt will retire on February 20 followed by Justice Devani's retirement in March and Justices Mayani and Patel retiring in May.