NEW DELHI: Days after the Supreme Court Collegium declined her request for reconsideration of transfer to Meghalaya, Madras High Court Chief Justice Vijaya K Tahilramani has resigned.
She tendered her resignation to President Ram Nath Kovind and sent a copy of it to Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Friday night, official sources said.
The collegium, headed by Chief Justice Gogoi, had recommended transfer of Justice Tahilramani, who was elevated as the Madras High Court's Chief Justice on August 8 last year, to the Meghalaya High Court.
The collegium had recommended her transfer on August 28, after which she had made a representation requesting it to reconsider the proposal, but it was shot down. On Friday, over 100 advocates from Madras High Court and other subordinate courts wrote to the collegium, asking it to reconsider its decision transferring Tahilramani.
“The transfer becomes a weapon in the hands of the all-powerful collegium, which is not a creation of legislation but that of the judiciary itself. It is of concern that there are no checks and balances in matters of administration of the judiciary, " the letter said.
It quoted an order passed by the Constitution Bench of the apex court, which reads: “The power of transfer is a highly dangerous power involving great hardship and injury to the judge transferred, including a stigma on his reputation in cases where the transfer is not effected pursuant to any policy but the judge is picked out for transfer on a selective basis and it makes no difference whether the transfer is made by the government on its own initiative or is made at the instance of the Chief Justice of India.”
The advocates said that the move cannot be justified on the principle of administrative interests, which is an expression which can be used in every case.”It is ironical that a person of her seniority is being assigned to the smallest high court and a judge who is junior to her in the Madras High court, is being elevated and transferred as Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court,” they added
Justice Tahilramani’s decision is a pointer to the chaos created by Supreme Court collegium’s recent decisions on promotions and transfers. At least two judges of Supreme Court have already expressed displeasure over the proposal to promote four chief justices of high courts, ignoring the seniority and ability of others.
The transfer of Telangana High Court judge PV Sanjay Kumar is already roiling the Telangana and Andhra Pradesh Bars. It is to be noted that in May 2017, Tahilramani upheld the conviction and life imprisonment of 11 people in the Bilkis Bano gang-rape case, which was transferred from Gujarat to Maharashtra.
Imbroglio, in a nutshell
August 8, 2018: Vijaya K. Tahilramani takes over as Chief Justice of the Madras High Court from Chief Justice Indira Banerjee, who is elevated as a judge of the Supreme Court.
August 28, 2019: The Supreme Court Collegium recommends Tahilramani’s transfer from the Madras High Court to the Meghalaya High Court; to be replaced by Justice A.K. Mittal from the Meghalaya High Court ‘in the interest of better administration of justice’.
September 2: Tahilramani vide representation requests SC Collegium to reconsider transfer proposal .
September 3: Collegium refuses requests made by two HC judges Vivek Agarwal and Amit Rawal on reconsidering transfer.
September 6: Tahilramani announces resignation.
(With inputs from ENS)