The Supreme Court Monday sought the central government's view on a petition challenging the continuance of Justice Nagendra Rai as acting Chief Justice of Patna High Court.

The petition argued that Rai's continuance in the post since July 22 last year was against the practice of having a high court chief justice from outside the state. Rai belongs to Bihar.

A three-judge bench of Chief Justice R.C. Lahoti, Justice C.K. Thakker and Justice P.K. Balasubramanyan asked petitioner Basant Kumar Choudhary's counsel Prasant Bhushan to give a copy of the petition to the central government standing counsel P. Parameswaran.

The bench fixed the hearing July 18 and directed the attorney general or the solicitor general to be present.

The petition said the Supreme Court - in the S.P. Gupta vs Union of India case - had held the policy of having chief justices in every high court from outside the state as constitutionally valid, reasonable and in public interest.

The petition pointed out that when Punjab and Haryana High Court Chief Justice B.K. Roy, who is from Bihar, was recently sought to be shifted to the Patna High Court, the government had raised objections. As a result, Roy was shifted to Guwahati High Court.