In Protest Over Transfer, Madras HC Chief Justice Tahilramani Set to Resign

The Supreme Court collegium headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi had recently recommended Justice Tahilramani's transfer to the Meghalaya high court.

New Delhi: The senior-most high court judge in India, Madras high court Chief Justice Vijaya Kamlesh Tahilramani seems set to resign from her post in protest against her transfer orders, The News Minute reported. On August 28, the Supreme Court collegium headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi had recommended Tahilramani’s transfer to the Meghalaya high court.

Justice Tahilramani was elevated as the chief justice of the Madras high court last August, and following the transfer recommendation, she had made a representation to the collegium requesting it to reconsider the proposal.

However, on September 3, the apex court website carried a resolution stating that the collegium had “carefully gone through the aforesaid representation and taken into consideration all relevant factors. On reconsideration, the collegium is of the considered view that it is not possible to accede to her request.”

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Justice Tahilramani then went public with her decision to resign on the evening of September 6 – during a dinner hosted by six Madras high court judges who were recently made permanent, according to The Hindu.

Justice Tahilramani stated that she had discharged her duty without any fear or favour since assuming office as a Bombay high court judge in June 2001. While holding office as the acting chief justice of the Bombay high court, Justice Tahilramani had in May 2017 upheld the conviction and life imprisonment of 11 people in the Bilkis Bano gangrape case, which was transferred to Maharashtra from Gujarat by the top court.

Justice Tahilramani stated that even while she was due to retire in October 2020, she was upset by her transfer order to a much smaller high court and had decided to step down. Sources told The Hindu that she was resolute and “her conscience was clear and that she [said that she] would be leaving the institution with the satisfaction of having performed well.”

Meanwhile, a section of lawyers at the Madras high court has written to the Supreme Court stating that “arbitrary transfers whittle away the independence of the judiciary and the confidence of judges.”

Requesting the collegium to reconsider Justice Tahilramani’s transfer, the memorandum further read that “The style of functioning of the collegium leaves one with the impression that the high court is subordinate to the collegium. Any transfer should meet with an element of fairness but it is noticed, of late, that there appear to be no norms in the matter of transfer of judges,” the memorandum further read.

(With PTI inputs)