Who is Justice Akil Kureshi?

The Tripura High Court’s Chief Justice is the second senior most High Court judge, but was not recommended for elevation to the SC

Justice Akil qureshi

Justice Akil Abdulhamid Kureshi is the current Chief Justice of the Tripura High Court. He practised at the Gujarat High Court until he was appointed as an additional judge on March 7, 2004. He took an oath as a permanent judge on August 12, 2005. He has also acted as the interim Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court for two weeks before being transferred to the Bombay High Court. Finally, on November 8, 2019, he was appointed as the Chief Justice of the Tripura High Court.

Justice Kureshi was also in line to become the Chief Justice of the Madhya Pradesh High in 2019, on the recommendation of the Supreme Court collegium, but the Centre returned his file. On May 10, 2019 the Supreme Court in its resolution had said, “Mr. Justice A.A. Kureshi is the senior-most Judge from Gujarat High Court and at present is functioning, on transfer, in Bombay High Court. Having regard to all relevant factors, the Collegium is of the considered view that Mr. Justice A.A Kureshi is suitable in all respects for being appointed as Chief Justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court. The Collegium resolves to recommend accordingly.”

As the Centre seemed hesitant to make Justice Kureshi the Chief Justice of an important High Court, the Supreme Court modified its own previous recommendation due to communication from the government in late August in 2019. By a resolution dated September 5, 2019, the collegium recommended him to be appointed as the Chief Justice of the Tripura High Court instead.

“On reconsideration and after taking into account the aforesaid two communications dated 23rd August, 2019 and 27th August, 2019 and the accompanying material, the Collegium resolves to reiterate its earlier recommendation dated 10th May, 2019 with the modification that Mr. Justice A.A. Kureshi be appointed as Chief Justice of the Tripura High Court,” stated the collegium.


The Central government’s reluctance to appoint Justice Akil Kureshi as Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court, led to the filing of a writ petition before the Supreme Court by the Gujarat High Court Advocates Association. The GHCAA had reportedly prayed that a direction be issued to the Central government to implement the Collegium resolution of May 10, 2019.

Further controversy erupted on August 17, when the Supreme Court collegium recommended the names of nine judges for elevation to the Supreme Court, leaving Justice Kureshi behind. What was more striking was that the collegium selected the senior most High Court Chief Justice, AS Oka but did not recommend the next senior Chief Justice in line, i.e., Justice AA Kureshi. 

According to some reports, the reason for his career hitting a wall is believed to be his decision to send Amit Shah to judicial custody in connection with the extra judicial killing of Sohrabuddin Shaikh and his wife, Kausar Bi. In Central Bureau of Investigation vs Amit Shah (Crl. App. No. 1497 of 2010), Justice Kureshi had ordered on August 6, 2010: “I am conscious that law leans against custodial interrogation as also limited jurisdiction of this Court in considering the legality of the discretionary order passed by the Learned Magistrate. In totality of the facts and circumstances of the case, however, I am of the opinion that limited remand would be justified and was called for.”

Notable work

Justice Kureshi has always upheld the constitutional freedoms of free speech, personal liberty and also passed key directions in the recent Covid matters. In Lipika Paul vs State of Tripura and Ors WP(C) No.1363/2019, he had held that government servants are entitled to hold and express their political beliefs. The government servant was suspended from duty after she allegedly participated in a political rally and canvassed against a political party by making defamatory and indecent comments on Facebook. But Justice Kureshi held that every person who is present in the audience during such addresses cannot be stated to have participated in the rally and that, as a government servant she was not devoid of her right of free speech, a fundamental right which can be curtailed only by a valid law. 

Another important judgment delivered by him was in the case of Dulal Ghosh vs State of Tripura and Ors Crl. Petition No. 8 of 2020, where he held that insults to religion made unwittingly or carelessly or without any deliberate or malicious intention to outrage the religious feelings of a class, would not be an offence under section 295A of the Indian Penal Code.

As we had previously reported in SabrangIndia, he was hearing a petition for quashing an FIR registered against the petitioner last year for allegedly hurting the religious sentiments of the Hindu community by insulting the Bhagavad Gita on social media. In this backdrop he had observed, “With rapid spread of social media platforms, the right to free speech has got an entirely new dimension…. What however continues to hold good is that the right of free speech guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution is subject to reasonable restrictions that may be imposed by the State in the interests of sovereignty and integrity of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality, contempt of Court, defamation or incitement of an offence…The law is clear. The petitioner can hold his personal beliefs and within the framework of law can also express them, as long as he does not transgress any of the restrictions imposed by law to the freedom of his speech and expression.”

He is also known for taking suo motu cognisance of a news report last year where a minor girl from Tripura was sold to a family in Rajasthan due to abject poverty of her family. By taking suo motu cognisance, the court also discovered that she was raped, was two and a half months pregnant, and had tested positive for Covid-19. The State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Tripura as well as the Government authorities were directed to take necessary steps for ensuring the return of the girl as soon as she is cured of Coronavirus and her quarantine period is over. (Court on its own motion W.P Civ. PIL No. 6 of 2020).

New additional judges in the Supreme Court including three women have filled the vacancies for now, until Justice R Subhash Reddy retires on January 4, 2022. Justice Kureshi is set to retire in March 2022 and it is only fair that he be considered for this vacancy.


Unwitting and careless insults to religion, not an offence under IPC: Tripura HC

NHRC chairmanship contender Justice Arun Mishra’s legacy



Related Articles