President appoints 3 new HC Judges

Oath ceremony likely to take place next week

Neeraj Rohmetra

Jammu, Apr 3: Union Law Ministry today issued a formal notification for appointment of three Judges of the common High Court for Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union Territory of Ladakh after President, Ram Nath Kovind signed their warrants of appointment.
The formal notification issued by Rajinder Kashyap, Joint Secretary in the Union Ministry of Law and Justice, which is in possession of EXCELSIOR says, “in exercise of the powers conferred by clause (1) of the Article 217 of the Constitution of India, the President is pleased to appoint Vinod Chatterji Koul, Sanjay Dhar and Puneet Gupta to be Judges of the Common High Court in that order of seniority, with effect from the date they assume charge of their respective offices”.
“Tomorrow the warrants of appointment issued by the Union Law Ministry are likely to be formally received by High Court authorities and subsequently, process will be initiated for the oath ceremony of the three newly appointed Judges”, sources said, adding, “the oath ceremony is likely to take place next week”.
Vinod Chatterji Koul is presently Chairman, J&K Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal while as Sanjay Dhar is Registrar General of the J&K High Court and Puneet Gupta is posted as Member, J&K Special Tribunal Jammu.
On February 20, this year the Supreme Court Collegium headed by Chief Justice of India Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde had approved the proposal for elevation of these three senior Judicial Officers as Judges of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court and forwarded its decision to the Union Law Ministry for clearance.
J&K High Court has sanctioned strength of 17 Judges, which includes 13 Permanent Judges and 4 Additional Judges. However, at present there are only nine Judges including Chief Justice Gita Mittal. The other Judges of the High Court are Justice Rajesh Bindal, Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey, Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur, Justice Tashi Rabstan, Justice Sanjeev Kumar Shukla, Justice Sanjay Kumar Gupta, Justice Sindhu Sharma and Justice Rajnesh Oswal.
With the induction of three new Judges, the strength of common High Court will increase to 12.
Yesterday, Chief Justice Gita Mittal had administered oath to Rajnesh Oswal, who became the first Judge of the common High Court to take oath under the Indian Constitution. Earlier, Judges of the High Court had taken oath under Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, which ceased to have effect since August 5, 2019 when the special status of Jammu and Kashmir was revoked by the Parliament.
Vinod Chatterjee Koul, who is presently posted as Chairman, Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal, J&K, had earlier served as Principal District & Sessions Judge, Jammu and Registrar Vigilance. As District and Sessions Judge, he had served in various courts. He served as Additional District & Sessions Judge, Kathua, 2nd Additional District & Sessions Judge, Jammu, Additional District & Sessions Judge, Udhampur, Principal District & Sessions Judge, Anantnag, Principal District & Sessions Judge, Kathua and Special Judge Anti-Corruption (CBI Cases), Jammu.
Sanjay Dhar is presently posted as Registrar General. He had earlier served as CJM Jammu, Special Judge Anti-corruption Jammu, CBI Court, Presiding Officer MACT, Principal District & Sessions Judge Leh, Kathua and Rajouri.
Puneet Gupta is presently posted as Member Special Tribunal and he had also served as member of Sales Tax Tribunal. Earlier after getting promoted as District and Sessions Judge in 2007, he had also served as Special Judge Anti-Corruption, Jammu, CBI Court, Jammu, Registrar Judicial J&K High Court Jammu and as Registrar Vigilance.
On January 22, this year the SC Collegium in its meeting had also approved the name of Advocate Javed Iqbal Wani for appointment as High Court Judge and forwarded the same to Union Law Ministry for appointment as High Court Judge. “However, the file is still lying with the Law Ministry”, sources asserted.