Madras HC Chief Justice V.K. Tahilramani decides to quit over transfer

SC Collegium had transferred Justice Tahilramani to Meghalaya High Court

Madras High Court Madras High Court

In a surprise move, Madras High Court Chief Justice Vijaya Kamalesh Tahilramani offered to quit from the prestigious post on Friday, a day after the Supreme Court Collegium resolved and recommended to swap the Chief Justices of Madras and Meghalaya High Courts.

Tahilramani, according to highly placed sources in the court, had shared this information with her colleagues on the bench during a dinner this evening. Tahilramani informed a gathering of judges that she would rather quit than accepting the transfer to a smaller court. Meghalaya High Court has a sanctioned strength of three judges against 75 in the Madras High Court. 

“I am no more part of the system. I will be sending in my resignation to the President of India and Chief Justice of India,” she reportedly informed senior counsel Indira Jaising. 

Sources in the Madras High Court confirmed that the Chief Justice viewed the transfer order by the Collegium, despite her request to reconsider, equal to humiliating her. Sources also confirmed that Tahilramani’s transfer was engineered by a senior Supreme Court judge who once headed the Madras HC as its CJ. It is said that Tahilramani refused to recommend the name of an advocate for elevation as High Court judge, which was recommended by the senior judge. Apparently, the senior judge considered this as a snub and engineered her transfer, added the sources. 

The Collegium, a few days ago, had issued official orders to swap the places of the Madras and Meghalaya High Court Chief Justices. The order said that the transfer was made in the “interest of better administration of justice.” It said Ajay Kumar Mittal, CJ of Meghalaya High Court, would be transferred to the Madras High Court. The Collegium’s decision to transfer Tahilramani, who is one of the senior most Chief Justices and one among the two women High Court Chief Justices, had sent shock waves in the legal fraternity. 

Tahilramani had delivered several telling judgments during her earlier stint as acting Chief Justice of Mumbai High Court. With Tahilramani deciding to quit, various issues involving the transfer of judges are all set to come to light. Recently, during a high-profile event at the Madras High Court, senior Supreme Court judge Justice Bhanumathi had reportedly opened up to one of her colleagues in the Madras Bar that she was not being consulted as a senior judge from Tamil Nadu with regard to any matters involving the legal fraternity in the state by the Collegium.