SRINAGAR: For the first time in the history of Indian judiciary, a J&K high court judge on Thursday took oath under the Constitution of India and not under the J&K Constitution, which has ceased to be in effect since August 5 last year, when the Centre ended the special status of the state and reorganized it into two Union Territories. In another first, the oath-taking of Justice Rajnesh Oswal was conducted through videoconferencing due to restrictions on public gathering and requirement of social distance to arrest the spread of coronavirus.
Chief Justice of J&K HC Gita Mittal administered the oath of office to justice Oswal through videoconferencing, which was joined by brother judges from their respective residences in Jammu, Chandigarh and Srinagar. The ceremony was live-streamed through webcast on the internet.
The oath-taking happened at a simple ceremony in the conference room of the Jammu wing of the J&K HC, with a few people present, including court’s Registrar General Sanjay Dhar, who read the warrant of appointment of the new judge in English and Hindi. This is again for the first time that the warrant of appointment was read in English and Hindi. Earlier, it used to be read in English and Urdu.
“Justice Oswal is the first judge of the J&K high court to take oath under the Indian Constitution. All previous judges of the HC had taken oath under the Constitution of J&K,” Dhar said.
Earlier, in the erstwhile state of J&K, the warrant of appointment of a judge of the HC used to be in three languages — English, Urdu and Hindi, and since the state language was Urdu, the warrant used to be read in English and Urdu only, Dhar said.
With the appointment of Justice Oswal, the strength of J&K HC has increased from eight to nine. The HC has a sanctioned strength of 17 judges — 13 permanent and four additional.
Justice Oswal was appointed as judge of the common HC for the UTs of J&K and Ladakh on January 29, and the authorization for administering oath was received on April 1, Dhar added.