NEW DELHI: Justice Rohit B Deo’s surprise announcement in open court on Friday on resigning as a judge of Bombay high court came hours after the Supreme Court collegium informed him about its decision to transfer him out of the parent HC to Allahabad HC and was learnt to have been prompted by factors other than the “personal reasons” the judge had cited.

Supreme Court sources said the decision to transfer Justice Deo, appointed as a judge of the Bombay high court on June 5, 2017 and 17 in the seniority list, was taken by the collegium comprising CJI DY Chandrachud and Justices S K Kaul, Sanjiv Khanna, B R Gavai and Surya Kant on receiving firm intelligence report about certain untoward incidents that cast a shadow on the October 2022 proceedings that resulted in acquittal of Naxal sympathiser GN Saibaba and his four co-accused, who were sentenced to life by the Gadchiroli sessions court in 2017 under UAPA for aiding and abetting activities for waging war against the country.

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Justice Deo had cited a technical reason that sanction for prosecution of Saibaba was not obtained under Section 45 of UAPA. On April 19 this year, the Supreme Court had set aside the HC order acquitting Saibaba and remitted the matter back to the HC for fresh consideration. The SC had also requested the HC chief justice to assign the case to a different judge.
The collegium had informed him that intelligence inputs relating to the Saibaba case was the reason for his transfer to Allahabad HC. Justice Deo was to retire on December 4, 2025 on attaining the age of 62 years.

Apart from Justice Deo, the collegium also took the decision to transfer 23 other judges from their parent HCs to other HCs. One of the main considerations of the collegium was to uproot well-entrenched judges from their parent HCs against whom allegations of misdemeanour were getting bulkier.
As per standard practice, the collegium on deciding to transfer a HC judge to another HC, allows him a period of seven days to give consent for the transfer, request modification or seek reconsideration. After receiving their responses, the collegium decides the representations from the judges, proposed to be transferred, through circulation among the top five judges, including the CJI.

The collegium also seeks views of the consultee judges in the SC who have their parent HCs in either of the two HCs, where the judge is functioning and the other HC where he is being transferred to. The views of the Chief Justices of the concerned HCs are also sought for before the collegium notifies its proposal and sends it to the law ministry for effecting the transfers.


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