Madras high court lawyers protest Banerjee’s transfer, write to Supreme Court
Thirty-one senior lawyers of the Madras high court has written to the Supreme Court collegiums against the transfer of chief justice Sanjib Banerjee to Meghalaya high court.
Over 200 lawyers signed the representation, including senior counsels PS Raman, Nalini Chidambaram and NR Elango, a Rajya Sabha MP from Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham (DMK).
In the letter dated November 11, a copy of which was released to the media on Sunday, the 31 senior counsels noted that the Madras High Court was in a state of “constant flux” owing to the constant transfers and postings. “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,” their letter read. “This is so not only for the High Court but any institution more so the High Court, given the significant role it plays in preserving constitutional safeguards.”
“We are unable to fathom the reasons for his sudden transfer to another court,” the lawyers said.
Banerjee took office in Madras HC on January 4 this year and is due to retire in November 2023. The lawyers pointed out that he has hardly completed a year and pointed out that he disposed of a few thousand cases even during the Covid-19 pandemic and brought honour to the post.
They recalled that the earlier judgments of the Supreme Court have held that the transfer of judges is inevitable to protect “public interest” and “for better administration of justice” and said that they are unable to identify how Banerjee’s transfer could justify these reasons. “Justice Mr Sanjib Banerjee who has experience serving in large high court has demonstrated capacity and talent to handle a large number of cases which requirement would not arise in a court like the Meghalaya high court which though is an equally important institution is smaller one,” their statement read.
This is the second time that a Madras HC chief justice is being transferred to a smaller court in Meghalaya, which has just three judges. The Madras HC has 75. In 2019, the then chief justice of Madras HC Vijaya K Tahilramani, resigned after she was transferred to the Meghalaya high court.