Resignation of Madras HC Chief Justice Tahilramani accepted

Vijaya Kamlesh Tahilramani
Madras High Court Chief Justice Vijaya Kamlesh Tahilramani. Photo: The Week

New Delhi: The President has accepted the resignation of Madras High Court Chief Justice Vijaya Kamlesh Tahilramani. According to a notification, her resignation has been accepted with effect from September 6.

Justice V Kothari has been appointed as the acting chief justice of the Madras High Court, another notification said.

The transfer of Justice Tahilramani from the Madras High Court to the Meghalaya High Court had snowballed into a major controversy with lawyers in Chennai as well as in her home state of Maharashtra coming out in protest against the Supreme Court collegium's decision in this regard.

She had urged the Collegium to reconsider the proposal, but her request was turned down following which she tendered her resignation to President Ram Nath Kovind and also sent a copy to Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.

Registering her protest, she did not preside over the court proceedings. Bar Associations also protested against her transfer, with lawyers across Tamil Nadu carrying out day-long court boycott.

Later on September 12, the apex court had come out with a statement, saying that each of the recommendations for transfer of Chief Justices and Judges of various high courts was based on "cogent reasons".

Without naming Justice Tahilramani, the statement issued by the office of apex court's Secretary General Sanjeev S Kalgaonkar had said the reasons of transfer of judges were not disclosed in the interest of the institution but the apex court collegium would not hesitate to disclose them in the circumstance it becomes necessary.

The statement was released against the backdrop of media reports and speculation on the transfer of Justice Tahilramani.

Justice Tahilramani had resigned on September 6, days after the Supreme Court Collegium declined her request for reconsideration of her transfer.

She had sent her resignation letter to President Ram Nath Kovind, a copy of which was sent to Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.

Her transfer led to massive protests by lawyers both at the Madras High Court and Bombay High Court, where she was a judge before being appointed as the Chief Justice.

"Certain reports relating to recommendations recently made by the Collegium regarding transfer of Chief Justices/Judges of the High Courts have appeared in the media.

"As directed, it is stated that each of the recommendations for transfer was made for cogent reasons after complying with the required procedure in the interest of better administration of justice.

"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," the statement by the secretary general had said.

It further had said that each of the recommendations was made after "full and complete deliberations" and the same were "unanimously agreed upon by the Collegium".

The collegium, headed by Chief Justice Gogoi, had recommended transfer of Justice Tahilramani, who was elevated as the Madras High Court's Chief Justice on August 8 last year, to the Meghalaya High Court.

The collegium had recommended her transfer on August 28, after which she made a representation requesting it to reconsider the proposal.

She had protested against the collegium's decision to not consider her request against transferring her to the Meghalaya High Court.

The apex court collegium -- also comprising justices S A Bobde, N V Ramana, Arun Mishra and R F Nariman -- had recommended that Meghalaya High Court Chief Justice Justice A K Mittal be transferred to the Madras High Court.

Justice Tahilramani was appointed as a judge of the Bombay High Court on June 26, 2001. Justice Tahilramani was elevated as Chief Justice of the High Court last August. Her retirement was due on October 2, 2020.

While holding office as the acting chief justice of the Bombay High Court, she had in May 2017 upheld the conviction and life imprisonment of 11 people in the Bilkis Bano gang-rape case, which was transferred to Maharashtra from Gujarat by the top court.

(With inputs from PTI and IANS.)