Justice AK Sikri retires from Supreme Court today

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi with Justice Arjan Kumar Sikri in New Delhi. (Express File Photo: Prem Nath Pandey)

Justice Arjan Kumar Sikri, the second senior-most judge of the Supreme Court, will retire Wednesday. Sikri, 65, was elevated to the apex court on April 12, 2013.

Justice Sikri’s decades-long career began in 1977 when he enrolled as an advocate. He was appointed as a judge of the Delhi High Court on July 7, 1999. He became Acting Chief Justice of the High Court on October 10, 2011. He was elevated as Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on September 23, 2012, before beginning his tenure in the Supreme Court.

Justice Sikri is a serving member of the Academic Council of National Judicial Academy, the Committee on Restatement of Law, International Law Association (India Branch), Governing Council of Bangalore Law University and the Directorate of Legal Studies and Law Reforms Committee.

He was recently mired in controversy after reports on his selection as a member of the Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitral Tribunal (CSAT) surfaced, days after he was nominated by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi to the Selection Committee that decided to transfer CBI Director Alok Verma from the agency.

Expressing "pain" over the connection between his nomination to the CSAT with the decision of the CBI panel, Justice Sikri had turned down the offer.

Justice Sikri had represented the CJI - who had recused himself based on the circumstances of the case - on a panel headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to decide Verma's future in the CBI. While Justice Sikri and the Prime Minister voted to oust Verma, the third member of the committee, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge had recorded his dissent.

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Among his notable judgments this year is his ruling on the Delhi vs Centre case. He had ruled that the power of transfers and postings of officers from the rank of Joint Secretary upward lies with the Lieutenant Governor, and that files regarding the rest of the officers are to be routed through the Delhi government. The case will be heard by a larger bench due to a split verdict.

On Tuesday, Justice Sikri was part of a bench that ordered the acquittal of six men from "nomadic tribes" who were sentenced to death on charges of murder and rape. Their sentence had been confirmed after they exhausted the review process in the SC. In this rare case of judicial reversal, the three-judge bench had found glitches in the prosecution case.

Meanwhile, news agency ANI reported Tuesday that President Ram Nath Kovind has nominated Justice S A Bobde of the Supreme Court as executive chairman of the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) in place of Justice Sikri. The appointment will be in effect from March 7, 2019.