After 2,000-km road travel, new Meghalaya CJ quarantined after oath

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BY SUJIT CHAKRABORTY
Shillong, April 28 (IANS)
Justice Biswanath Somadder, who traveled around 2,000 km by road from Uttar Pradesh to Meghalaya via West Bengal, went into home quarantine hours after taking oath as the Chief Justice of the Meghalaya High Court on Monday, officials said on Tuesday.
Justice Somadder’s predecessor, Chief Justice Muhammad Rafiq, also traveled by road to Bhubaneswar to take oath as the Chief Justice of Orissa High Court on Monday.
A High Court official in Shillong said Chief Justice Somadder, 56, had traveled by car from Prayagraj (in UP) to reach Shillong via West Bengal due to the countrywide lockdown and following the protocols related to COVID-19.
“Justice Somadder was sworn in as the ninth Chief Justice of Meghalaya High Court on Monday afternoon by Governor Tathagata Roy at a very simple ceremony at the Raj Bhavan in Shillong,” the official said.
All the dignitaries and officials present in the oath-taking ceremony maintained the standard protocols of COVID-19, including social distancing.
According to the official, soon after the swearing-in, the Chief Justice, who came to Shillong alone, went to 14-day home quarantine on his own. “During the Chief Justice’s two-week quarantine, through video conference, important issues would be resolved by him,” the official told IANS refusing to be named.
Justice Somadder left Allahabad on Friday and arrived in Kolkata on Saturday, after a brief rest at his Salt Lake residence in Kolkata, he proceeded to Shillong and reached in the hill city on Sunday night.
Justice Somadder assumed charge as a judge of Allahabad High Court in October last year after acting as the officiating Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court.
Meghalaya’s Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong defended the “sudden appointment” amid the COVID-19 lockdown. “The High Court needs a Chief Justice, just as a state needs a Chief Minister or the Army needs a General,” the Deputy Chief Minister remarked, saying the Meghalaya Chief Justice, his driver and his entire entourage after their travel have been asked to follow the national protocol.
Justice Somadder succeeds Chief Justice Muhammad Rafiq, who has been transferred as Chief Justice of Orissa High Court and assumed in office on Monday. The 60-years-old Chief Justice also travelled by road to Bhubaneswar to take the new assignment.
The President last week appointed the new Chief Justices of Bombay, Meghalaya and Orissa.

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