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Centre Transfers Madras CJ Sanjib Banerjee to Meghalaya Amid Protests

By: Sashwata Saha
17 Nov 2021 12:44:23 PM Newshound India Desk

The Centre, on Monday, notified the transfer of Madras High Court Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee to Meghalaya, ignoring appeals for a rethink by the Madras Bar and former Justice K Chandru, whose real-life story has inspired the critically acclaimed ‘Jai Bhim’, Live Law reported. 

 

The Supreme Court collegium headed by the Chief Justice of India NV Ramana had recommended the transfer of Justice Banerjee in a meeting held on September 16. This decision was made public on November 9.

 

 

“In exercise of the power conferred by clause (I) of Article 222 of the Constitution of India, the President, after consultation with the Chief Justice of India, is pleased to transfer Shri Justice Sanjib Banerjee, Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, as the Chief Justice of the Meghalaya High Court and to direct him to assume charge of the office of the Chief Justice of the Meghalaya High Court,” a notification issued by the Law Ministry stated.

 

The collegium recommended that Justice MN Bhandari, the second senior-most judge of the Allahabad High Court, replace Justice Banerjee in Chennai, say documents accessed by The Indian Express. If approved by the Centre, Justice Bhandari will be the senior-most judge in the Madras High Court and the state’s acting chief justice.

 

On Tuesday morning, a delegation of 237 advocates practising at the high court had written an open memorandum to the collegium this past Thursday even before Justice Banerjee’s transfer was made public, asking whether this was a “punishment transfer” for an “honest and fearless” judge who had delivered a series of landmark verdicts.

 

Justice K Chandru, a highly respected retired Madras High Court judge, spoke of the brevity of Justice Banerjee’s 10-month stint in Madras and the impartiality, efficiency and speed with which he had disposed of cases through virtual hearings.

 

“While transfers for better administration of justice may be necessary in principle, we have a right to know why a competent, fearless judge and an efficient administrator of a larger High Court, where more than 35,000 cases were filed in a year, should be transferred to a Court where the total number of cases instituted in a month is on an average of 70-75 cases only,” former Justice Chandru said to The Telegraph

 

Justice Banerjee, whose parent high court is the Calcutta High Court, assumed the office of the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court on January 4, 2021. He is expected to retire in November 2023, as per Law Ministry records.

 

CJ Banerjee is known for consistently seeking accountability from authorities at all levels in their constitutional and statutory duties. The Madras Bar called him, “impartial, open to suggestions from all quarters for improving the functioning of the justice system and has undertaken proactive measures to strengthen the judiciary.”

 

To be noted, Justice Vijaya K Tahilramani, who was the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court in 2019, was also transferred to the same Meghalaya High Court. She had resigned in protest against the move.

Centre Transfers Madras CJ Sanjib Banerjee to Meghalaya Amid Protests

 

The Centre, on Monday, notified the transfer of Madras High Court Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee to Meghalaya, ignoring appeals for a rethink by the Madras Bar and former Justice K Chandru, whose real-life story has inspired the critically acclaimed ‘Jai Bhim’, Live Law reported. 

 

The Supreme Court collegium headed by the Chief Justice of India NV Ramana had recommended the transfer of Justice Banerjee in a meeting held on September 16. This decision was made public on November 9.

 

 

“In exercise of the power conferred by clause (I) of Article 222 of the Constitution of India, the President, after consultation with the Chief Justice of India, is pleased to transfer Shri Justice Sanjib Banerjee, Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, as the Chief Justice of the Meghalaya High Court and to direct him to assume charge of the office of the Chief Justice of the Meghalaya High Court,” a notification issued by the Law Ministry stated.

 

The collegium recommended that Justice MN Bhandari, the second senior-most judge of the Allahabad High Court, replace Justice Banerjee in Chennai, say documents accessed by The Indian Express. If approved by the Centre, Justice Bhandari will be the senior-most judge in the Madras High Court and the state’s acting chief justice.

 

On Tuesday morning, a delegation of 237 advocates practising at the high court had written an open memorandum to the collegium this past Thursday even before Justice Banerjee’s transfer was made public, asking whether this was a “punishment transfer” for an “honest and fearless” judge who had delivered a series of landmark verdicts.

 

Justice K Chandru, a highly respected retired Madras High Court judge, spoke of the brevity of Justice Banerjee’s 10-month stint in Madras and the impartiality, efficiency and speed with which he had disposed of cases through virtual hearings.

 

“While transfers for better administration of justice may be necessary in principle, we have a right to know why a competent, fearless judge and an efficient administrator of a larger High Court, where more than 35,000 cases were filed in a year, should be transferred to a Court where the total number of cases instituted in a month is on an average of 70-75 cases only,” former Justice Chandru said to The Telegraph

 

Justice Banerjee, whose parent high court is the Calcutta High Court, assumed the office of the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court on January 4, 2021. He is expected to retire in November 2023, as per Law Ministry records.

 

CJ Banerjee is known for consistently seeking accountability from authorities at all levels in their constitutional and statutory duties. The Madras Bar called him, “impartial, open to suggestions from all quarters for improving the functioning of the justice system and has undertaken proactive measures to strengthen the judiciary.”

 

To be noted, Justice Vijaya K Tahilramani, who was the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court in 2019, was also transferred to the same Meghalaya High Court. She had resigned in protest against the move.

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