Bombay Lawyers’ Association writes to acting chief justice, terming the change of assignments as one which ‘sends a wrong signal to the public at large, undermining the faith of people in the institution’

Justice Revati Mohite-Dere, the Bombay High Court judge who was hearing challenges to discharge applications in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case until last week, has proceeded on leave till March 1. However, it is unclear if this is in any way connected to the cases being assigned to a new judge after a change of assignments was notified last week.

HC Registrar General SB Agrawal told Mirror that there is no reason for too much to be read into it, and that Justice Mohite-Dere has tendered a leave application. He termed the change of assignments as routine.

Justice Mohite-Dere had been hearing five revision applications in the case, challenging the discharge of five police officers, on a daily basis for over two weeks. The judge had made remarks about the lack of assistance from the CBI.

The applications were filed by Sheikh’s brother Rubabuddin, challenging the discharge of IPS officers DG Vanzara, Dinesh MN and Rajkumar Pandian, and two revision applications filed by the CBI against the discharge of former Gujarat IPS officer NK Amin, and Rajasthan police Constable Dalpat Singh Rathod.

Meanwhile, the Bombay Lawyers’ Association has written to Acting Chief Justice Vijaya Tahilramani seeking “urgent remedial measures” on the change of assignment, calling it one which “sends a wrong signal to the public at large, undermining the faith of people in the institution.”

“This change in assignment has been done when Justice Mohite-Dere has already heard the matter at length on a day-to-day basis…. This is particularly intriguing considering how Justice Mohite-Dere had consistently reprimanded the CBI’s approach in the case,” the communication read.

It then points out that based on the new assignments, a PIL filed by the BLA on the issue of CBI not challenging discharge orders in the same case will now come up before a division bench headed by a senior judge who had made statements saying there didn’t seem to be any foul play in the death of former CBI judge BH Loya.

Though the BLA communication makes no further comments on this aspect, it seeks urgent remedial measures “in the circumstance”, saying that not only justice should be done, it should also appear to have been done