31 designated senior counsel write to Supreme Court Collegium to reconsider transfer of Madras HC Chief Justice

The constant transfers of judges had left the Madras High Court in a state of flux; such short-lived tenures boded ill for the health of the institution and the justice delivery system, the senior counsel said

Updated - November 14, 2021 02:32 pm IST

Published - November 14, 2021 02:30 pm IST - CHENNAI

Chief Justice of Madras High Court Sanjib Banerjee

Chief Justice of Madras High Court Sanjib Banerjee

About 31 designated senior counsel have sent a joint representation to the Supreme Court collegium to reconsider its recommendation to the Centre and the President, to transfer Madras High Court Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee, to the High Court of Meghalaya.

The representation stated that the Chief Justice had assumed office in the Madras High Court only on January 4, and had completed only 10 months here though he has two more years of service with his date of retirement being November 1, 2023.

“During his term he has discharged his functions both in the administrative and judicial side to the best of his capabilities bringing honour to the office he held. He has been a good administrator and in the judicial side he has disposed a few thousand cases even during the devastating COVID-19 pandemic,” the senior counsel said.

Their representation went on to read: “The orders were predominantly dictated in the open court and delivered. When this is a fact that most advocates and litigants would readily agree, we are unable to fathom the reasons for his sudden transfer to another court.”

The senior counsel also stated that constant transfers of judges had left the Madras High Court in a state of constant flux. Such short-lived tenures at the apex of the court’s hierarchy in a State bodes ill for the health of the institution and the justice delivery system, they opined.

Stating that it takes a new Chief Justice at least a year to understand the administration, composition and challenges of an institution apart from understanding the culture, language and local practices, the senior counsel said any Chief Justice of Madras High Court should at least have a two-year term.

However, in the last three years, the Madras High Court had three Chief Justices apart from Acting Chief Justices who were at the helm of affairs for brief periods, the senior counsel said and requested the collegium not to view the representation as a missive aimed at supporting the cause of any individual but a plea to strengthen the health of the institution.

The signatories to the representation included senior counsel P.S. Raman, V. Prakash, Nalini Chidambaram, E. Omprakash, Ravi Kumar Paul, N.R. Elango, P.H. Arvindh Pandian, Satish Parasaran, Veera Kathiravan, A. Thiyagarajan, M.K. Kabir and AR.L. Sundaresan.

Those who had signed electronically by consent included senior counsel Arvind P. Datar, Hema Sampath, S. Subbiah, M. Ravindran, Vijay Narayan, M. Ajmal Khan, S. Ramasamy, A. Sirajudeen, J. Raja Kalifulla, N. Krishnaveni, P.R. Raman, Pushya Sitaraman, T.P. Manoharan, N.C. Ramesh, Chitra Sampath, Isaac Mohanlal, R. Venkataraman and R. Murari.

The Madras Bar Association (MBA) also passed a resolution, in an emergency general body meeting held on Sunday, to reconsider the transfer.

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