Madras HC reserves order on a petition against Justice Tahilramani’s transfer to Meghalaya HC

[dropcap]M[/dropcap]ADRAS High Court on Friday reserved its order on public interest litigation challenging the transfer of Chief Justice VK Tahilramani to Meghalaya High Court.

The petition filed by advocate R Prabakaran has sought to restrain the President’s office from accepting Supreme Court collegium’s recommendation to transfer Chief Justice Tahilramani to the High Court of the Meghalaya.

He submitted before the two-judge bench presided by Justices M Sathyanarayanan and N Seshasayee that going by Article 222 of the Constitution of India, the President ought to first decide on transfer and the proposal cannot emanate from collegium.

The bench during the hearing orally observes that concerns regarding the transfer of judges and chief justices of the High Court have been addressed by the Supreme Court in its judgements in K Ashok Reddy and NJAC cases.

The court further observed that if the petitioner feels there is ambiguity than High Court may not be the appropriate forum and the forum to challenge may be the Supreme Court or the Parliament. Advocate Prabakaran during his arguments also contended before the court for disclosure of reasons for Supreme Court collegium recommendation to transfer Chief Justice Tahilramani to Meghalaya.

He submitted that before the court that “Civilisation rests on courts” while arguing on the importance of courts in maintaining public confidence. To this, Justice Seshasayee submitted that “it rests on the morality of the society”. 

Chief Justice Tahilramani

The Supreme Court Collegium had recently proposed to swap chief justices of two High Courts – Meghalaya and Madras. The Madras High Court is one of the oldest and the fourth largest in the country whereas the Meghalaya High Court is among the smallest.

Justice Tahilramani reportedly made her decision public to quit on September 6 night during a dinner hosted at the Tamil Nadu State Judicial Academy by six Madras High Court judges who were made permanent recently.

She is one of the senior-most judges and one of the two women High Court chief justices. She was the third woman to assume the charge of Chief Justice at the Madras High Court.