Madras High Court Chief Justice Sanjay V. Gangapurwala to retire from service on May 23

Justice R. Mahadevan, the senior-most puisne judge, is expected to serve as Acting Chief Justice of the High Court until the appointment of the next Chief Justice

Published - May 16, 2024 04:11 pm IST - CHENNAI

Madras High Court Chief Justice Sanjay V. Gangapurwala will retire on May 23, 2024

Madras High Court Chief Justice Sanjay V. Gangapurwala will retire on May 23, 2024 | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Madras High Court Chief Justice Sanjay V. Gangapurwala is all set to retire from service on May 23, and Justice R. Mahadevan, the senior-most puisne judge of the High Court, is expected to serve as its Acting Chief Justice until the appointment of the next Chief Justice.

Chief Justice Gangapurwala, from Mumbai, took charge at the Madras High Court on May 29, 2023. Over the past year, he has dealt with many important cases touching upon Constitutional, statutory and public interest issues while presiding over the First Division Bench.

On June 7, 2023, the Bench led by him modified a 2020 restraint order and permitted the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti Corruption to proceed with the inquiry into alleged irregularities in the award of tenders by the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) in 2018.

While disposing of a case related to violence at the campus of the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M) due to a beef eating fest organised by a section of students in 2017, he, on June 13, 2023 wrote: “No doubt, students have to be dealt with delicately. At the same time, they cannot also be allowed to go berserk.”

On June 16, 2023 while dealing with a public interest litigation (PIL) petition filed against the felling of 182 trees and transplantation of 103 more trees for the expansion of Egmore Railway Station in Chennai, his Bench directed Southern Railway to strictly comply with conditions imposed by the District Green Committee.

Disposing of a PIL petition alleging coercive methods being used against farmers to recover loans, his Bench made it clear that banks could not use muscle power, by engaging private agents to recover loans and that they must necessarily follow the procedures established by law to realise their dues.

On September 5, 2023, he and Justice P.D. Audikesavalu wrote that “a Minister without portfolio is a constitutional travesty” in the case of former Minister V. Senthilbalaji continuing to be part of the T.N. Cabinet despite him being in judicial custody in a money laundering case.

While dealing with another PIL petition, his Bench had expressed dismay over CCTV coverage provided in only 35 railway stations in Tamil Nadu and had insisted upon installing the cameras at the rest of the 407 stations too. His bench had also dealt with a dispute between the Sangeetha and Geetham chain of restaurants in Chennai.

After coming across a PIL petition that stated that nearly 50% of teaching posts were lying vacant in the special schools run by the State government for visually challenged children, his Bench had observed that the State must act with a sense of urgency and not put the career of the students in jeopardy.

On November 9, 2023, his Bench refused to strike down the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Act, 2022 in its entirety but ruled that the prohibition would apply only to games of chance and not to games of skill such as rummy and poker.

The First Bench comprising himself and Justice D. Bharatha Chakravarthy had also, on January 9, 2024, refused to declare as null and void, the election of four MPs and eight MLAs, who had contested on reserved symbols belonging to other political parties in the 2019 general election and the 2021 Assembly election.

His Bench also advised the State government to learn lessons from the 2023 floods and not alienate wetlands. He also persuaded the State government to study the possibility of providing horizontal reservations to transgender persons in education and public employment.

When the Supreme Court left it to his discretion to decide the judge who would hear six suo motu revision petitions taken up by the High Court against sitting as well as former Ministers, he ordered the listing of all those cases before Justice N. Anand Venkatesh who had initiated the suo motu action.

He also batted in favour of relocating the Government Law College back within Chennai Corporation limits and said that it was not right to have bifurcated the legal education institution meant for Chennai and shifted it to Tiruvallur and Chengalpattu districts.

The last of the significant orders passed by Chief Justice Sanjay V. Gangapurwala, before the commencement of the summer vacation for the Madras High Court on April 30, was related to the abolition of manual scavenging. He ordered the registration of criminal cases against civic body officials if any deaths were reported due to this practice.

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