Chennai: The Supreme Court collegium's proposal transferring Madras High Court Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee to Meghalaya has snowballed into a controversy with voices for and against the shifting of the senior judge.
The Collegium had earlier recommended for the transfer of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee to the Meghalaya High Court. The collegium, headed by Chief Justice of India N V Ramana, in its meeting held on September 16, had also recommended for the transfer of Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari of the Allahabad High Court to the Madras High Court.
Two major lawyers' bodies here-- the Madras High Court Advocates Association (MHAA), the largest one with a membership of over 20,000 advocates and the Madras Bar Association, an elite group of advocates -- have joined the chorus and passed resolutions protesting against the proposal to shift the CJ. Over 30 senior advocates of the High Court have also joined those protesting against the transfer.
This follows over 200 advocates writing to the CJI and the collegium last week, protesting against Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee's transfer to Meghalaya High Court and seeking to reconsider the proposal. While so, there were voices in support of the transfer as well.
Advocate R C Paul Kanakaraj, former president of the MHAA and the chief of BJP Legal Wing, alleged the issue was being politicised. He questioned the logic behind protesting against the transfer without ascertaining the reasons behind the same. There might be some strong reasons for the shifting, he claimed. The resolutions cannot be taken as the ones passed with the majority of the advocates, when there were several thousand lawyers.
The transfers might be with good intentions, which would ultimately pave way for seniority and their elevation to the Supreme Court, he added. Raising his voice against the resolution against the transfer at the extraordinary emergency meeting of the MBA at its premises on Sunday, advocate G Karthikeyan, who is also the Assistant Solicitor General of the Madras High Court, questioned the logic behind protesting against the CJ alone. Many judges including Chief Justices were shifted to other High Courts in the recent past. Why was the resolution singled out in respect of CJ Banerjee alone, he asked.
Another senior most judge T S Sivagnanam was transferred to the High Court in Kolkata recently. The resolution passed by the MBA included his case too. MHAA president G Mohanakrishnan said the association was distressed to note that the present Chief Justice was recommended for transfer from Chennai to Meghalaya. He had assumed office only in January 2021 and was a senior Judge. He has been effectively conducting the judicial administration in Tamil Nadu, he said and fervently requested the CJI and the Supreme Court Collegium judges to consider the views of the legal fraternity and take a good decision in the interest of all the stake-holders.
In its resolution, the MBA stated that a Chief Justice of a large chartered High Court like the one in Chennai, must be given at least two years term to study the situation prevailing in the institution and to take measures to improve the same.
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