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Sunday, Sep 22, 2019

After row over Madras HC judge, top court defends transfer policy

india Updated: Sep 12, 2019 23:43 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent

New Delhi The Supreme Court on Thursday defended the collegium’s policy of transferring high court judges after its decision to shift Madras high court chief justice Vijaya Kamlesh Tahilramani to Meghalaya ran into a controversy, saying its recommendations were based on cogent reasons and complied with procedure.

If found necessary, the Collegium would disclose reasons for judicial transfers, the apex court said.

“Certain reports relating to recommendations recently made by the Collegium regarding transfer of Chief Justices/Judges of the High Courts have appeared in the media,” a statement released by Supreme Court secretary general, Sanjeev Kalgaonkar said, without mentioning justice Tahilramani by name.

“As directed, the recommendations for transfer were made for cogent reasons after complying with required procedure in the interest of better administration of justice.”

On August 28, the Collegium, a body comprising the five most senior judges of the Supreme Court, cleared a raft of transfers apart from moving justice Tahilramani to Meghalaya. Tahilraman’s transfer from the Madras high court to Meghalaya, where the high court has only two judges, attracted media attention.

“Further, each of the recommendations was made after full and complete deliberations and the same were unanimously accepted upon by the collegium.”

On August 28, Meghalaya high court chief justic AK Mittal was appointed Madras high court chief justice; Tripura high court chief justice Sanjay Karol was moved to Jharkhand; Punjab & Haryana high court chief justice Amit Karol to Kerala; Telangana high court chief justice PV Sanjay Kumar to the Punjab & Haryana high court; and Gauhati high court chief justice Ujjal Bhuyan to the Bombay high court.

Justice Tahilramani last week resigned as a judge, triggering speculation over the reason for her transfer. Lawyers at the Madras high court also staged protests over her transfer.

The Supreme Court statement said: “Though it would not be in the interest of the institution to disclose the reasons for transfer, if found necessary, the Collegium will have no hesitation in disclosing the same.”

The Collegium, in its minutes dated August 28, recorded that the transfer of justice Tahilramani was done in the interest of better administration of justice,

Subsequently, a representation by justice Tahilramani to the Collegium against her transfer was also turned down. “The Collegium has 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. The Collegium, accordingly, reiterates its recommendation dated 28th August, 2019, for transfer of Mrs. Justice VK Tahilramani to Meghalaya High Court,” the Collegium said.

Commenting on the issue, Supreme Court advocate, Anil Mishra, said, ”It is not for the first time that decisions of the Collegium have come under fire; in the past, too, transfers and elevations have been questioned. But at the end of the day, the decision of the Collegium, a multi-member body, is arrived at after due deliberations. And I also welcome this bold move by the Supreme Court to put out this statement as it suggests that it is in favour of transparency.”

First Published: Sep 12, 2019 23:43 IST