Transfer of judges due to cogent reasons, SC clarifies

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After adverse media reports on shifting of Madras HC chief justice V K Tahilramani, the Supreme Court on Thursday clarified that the Collegium's recommendations for transfer of judges or chief justice of high courts were made in “the interest of better administration of justice” and after “full and complete deliberations and due to cogent reasons”.

“The Collegium will have no hesitation in disclosing, the reasons if necessary," it added.

A statement was issued responding to “certain” reports that appeared in media insinuating that Madras High Court Chief Justice V K Tahilramani was recommended for transfer to the Meghalaya HC on August 28 for the judgement that she delivered as a Bombay HC judge upholding conviction in the case of gang rape case of Bilkis Bano during the 2002 Gujarat riots.

Justice Tahilramani, the senior-most among all judges of the high court, had, subsequently, resigned on September 6 as her request to reconsider the decision was turned down.

She was apparently piqued over the decision to transfer her from the high court of 75 judges to a smaller high court with the maximum number of three judges only.

“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,” Secretary-General Sanjeev S Kalgaonkar stated.

It maintained that the transfer was in compliance with the required procedure in the interest
of better administration of justice.

It further asserted the recommendations for transfer were unanimously agreed upon by the Collegium headed by the CJI and also comprising four senior-most judges of Justice S A Bobde, N V Ramana, Arun Mishra and R F Nariman of the Supreme Court.

A news magazine on Thursday carried an opinion piece by Justice Markandey Katju, former SC judge and Chief Justice of Madras HC, where he stated, “the real reasons for chief justice Tahilramani's transfer, as I was informed in my conversations (with sitting judges of the SC and other lawyers) was that she was hardly working in the Madras High Court.”

“She would sit only till about 12 or 12.30 pm, but not in the post-lunch session. Following her example, many other justices of the Madras High Court would also not sit in the post-lunch session. Even when chief justice Tahilramani would sit in court, she would at most pass interim orders and adjourn cases and hardly gave any final judgement,” he added.

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