Wednesday, March 29, 2023
HomeJudiciaryMadras HC top judge Tahilramani’s transfer ‘payback for blocking lawyer duo’s elevation’

Madras HC top judge Tahilramani’s transfer ‘payback for blocking lawyer duo’s elevation’

Madras High Court Chief Justice V.K. Tahilramani is likely to resign after the SC refused to review her transfer to Meghalaya.

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New Delhi: Justice V.K. Tahilramani, who is likely to put in her papers over the Supreme Court collegium’s decision to transfer her from the Madras High Court to the one at Meghalaya, had recently found herself in conflict with senior judges over judgeship for two lawyers, ThePrint has learnt.

According to a source, the senior judges in question wanted two lawyers practising at the Madras High Court elevated as judges in its bench. However, Tahilramani, who heads the high court collegium, opposed the demand because the candidates hadn’t attained the requisite age, the source said.

The memorandum of procedure, which dictates the process to be followed for appointment of judges, lays down that a lawyer looking for elevation as judge should be at least 45 years old.

According to the source, Tahilramani was under “extreme pressure” to rescind her objection, and her refusal to do so cost the judge her posting as the chief justice of India’s third-largest high court where she also served as acting chief justice on three occasions between 2015 and 2018. While the Madras High Court dates back to the 1800s and has a sanctioned strength of 75 judges, the Meghalaya High Court was set up in 2013 and has a sanctioned strength of three.

Justice AK Mittal’s bittersweet collegium experience

As the CJI Ranjan Gogoi-led collegium recommended Tahilramani’s transfer last month, it also called for Meghalaya High Court Chief Justice A.K. Mittal’s appointment in her stead at the Madras High Court. In effect, the two judges were to switch places, even though Mittal is much junior to Tahilramani.

However, in 2018, Gogoi, who was then a senior member of the collegium led by his predecessor Dipak Misra, had strongly objected to Mittal’s elevation as chief justice of the Himachal Pradesh High Court, giving detailed reasons for the same in a note to the collegium.

The post was subsequently given to Justice Surya Kant, who was junior to Mittal. Justice Kant is now a judge in the Supreme Court.

In 2017, Justice Mittal was recommended for appointment as the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court by the Supreme Court collegium, then headed by former Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar. However, inexplicably, Khehar did not forward the collegium’s recommendation to the Centre.

When the govt wanted Tahilramani in the SC

Justice Tahilramani’s name was cited by the government as a judge deserving of a slot on the Supreme Court bench last year, when the collegium and the Modi government found themselves on the warpath over the elevation of the then Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice K.M. Joseph to the top court.

The collegium had recommended Joseph’s elevation in a resolution dated 10 January 2018. But the Centre sat over the collegium’s recommendation for over six months, and it took a reiteration by the collegium in June for the government to finally clear Joseph’s elevation.

The memorandum of procedure allows the Centre to disapprove of collegium recommendations, but not if they have been reiterated by the judicial body.

During the period it sat on the collegium’s recommendation, the government had cited V.K. Tahilramani’s ranking in all-India seniority to state that judges like her deserve to be elevated before Justice Joseph.

Going by the current rankings, Justice Tahilramani is the most senior high court judge, while Mittal figures at rank 42.

Tahilramani had asked the Supreme Court collegium to review her transfer but the CJI-led body refused to do it. While reiterating the transfer, the Gogoi-led collegium said her transfer to the Meghalaya High Court was in the interest of “better administration of justice”.

ThePrint tried to reach the judge, but she did not respond.

Also read: Madras HC top judge Tahilramani to resign today, confirms decision to colleagues at dinner


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  1. Unjustified transfers happen in both private and public sector. There have been innumerable number of cases wherein the high courts have held that transfers cannot be challenged and going on transfer is the responsibility of the employee concerned. Is there any super human involved to seek exemption that is not available to a common man. Why so much of hue and cry???

  2. Our bad times the judiciary the last resort to an agrived has become recalcitrant their legal acumen in selection of their herd compromising with lobbyists in political parties and interested judges rampant nowadays god save our nation & judiciary and few who don’t toe in line are shunted like our justice Tahilramanni

  3. It’s her personal choice! Even if she resigns, she would not be out of work, as many of the women are forced to be!! She can practice or pick up other “real work with good pay”!!!! But, the essence of service is also to render it to the backward areas and tribal communities too, if required staying in ” their areas and tents” too. Perhaps, her big time service in big courts could have been rendered in places which requires such people to be there! Yet, there is good on the table with gaadi, bungalow, naukar chaakar and being called a judge which is not as bad as being marked down for being smart while studying the law course to put one off from being a real lawyer, but for money launderers choice, of putting away a woman from “real earning or social status”, at the behest of ” EXTERNAL AGENCIES “, for their selfish money making motto….

    • Resignation has proved that uncle judge syndrome is functioning in Supreme Court and High Courts.
      Supreme Court and High Courts do not like to follow any check and balances.
      Appointment of Justices at local levels will impair the process of justice.

  4. Bad news. Unfortunate. CJI and his Collegium acted wrongly. It is wrong. Injustice caused not once, first in 2017, then 2018 and now again now. It unexplainable great Injustice caused at the hand of CJI.

  5. Exactly, Tahiramani is victim of double standards of collegium.

    It’s a shame that our SC cannot retain a senior and upright judge depriving citizens of equitable, fair, speedy and honest judgements.

    Tax paying citizens should demand explanations and not let any government office to fritter and waste scant resources whimsically.

    At the same time they should put pressure on incumbent government to let Ed, IT and Revenue department to make a frequent periodic inspection of the assets and earnings of the people employed in the judiciary. Starting first from top then to bottom of the heirarchy.

  6. SC & HCs r filled wid corrupt judges.Everything is clear in Chindabram,s case– given 25 times bail.Now OP Saini CBI judge granted AB to his alleged frend Chidamram.court fixers like Kapil sibbal Parshant Bhushan Indera Jai Singh Shekhar Gupta r contineously raping d law.

  7. If you take this bold step, the Country will stand by you! This is what the nation was expecting from you Madam. One should not saccum to the corroupt and biased action. The true colour of CJI is coming out, with due respect to rest of the Judiciary of our country! Bharat Mata ki Jai and Satya me Vijayate are not mear slogans but flush and blood of right minded common citizens!

  8. Justice Tahilramani was deserving of elevation to the apex court, partly to redress the gender imbalance but also because of her competence and integrity. So this is a tragic denouement. 2. In a system of checks and balances, the higher judiciary has the last word. Exemplified in some ways by decisions of the Collegium, which are still defined by opacity more than transparency. If decisions that are not subject to review / redress by another authority turn incomprehensible, the blind faith many of us have in this institution will begin to erode.

  9. Clowns making a mockery of justice. Indian Judiciary is a cruel joke played on its citizens. Legislative reforms to the Judiciary is the need of the hour. Reduce their authority and make the accountable.

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