Chennai, Nov 12 (BPNS)
About 237 lawyers practicing before the Madras High Court have written a letter to the Supreme Court collegium against the transfer of Madras High Court Chief Justice, Sanjib Banerjee as Chief Justice of Meghalaya High Court.
The lawyers in the letter pointed out that Justice Sanjib Banerjee had served Madras High Court as Chief Justice only for ten months and that whether the transfer was for ‘ public interest’ or for ‘better administration of ‘justice’, the two factors that are taken into consideration regarding the transfer of a judge.
Lawyers of the Madras High Court in the letter to collegium asked,” While transfers for better administration of justice may be necessary in principle, members of the Bar have a right to know why a competent, fearless judge and an efficient administrator of a large High court where more than 35000 were filed this year be transferred to a Court where the total number of cases instituted in a month is on an average of 70-75”.
The letter also stated that Justice Sanjib Banerjee had assumed office as Chief Justice of Madras High Court on January 4, 2021, and is expected to retire in November 2023.
The lawyers also said,” The recommendation to appoint him as the Chief Justice of Madras High Court was made less than a year back in December 2020 obviously after considering his experience as a judge of Calcutta High Court and suitability to head a Chartered High Court. It is therefore inexplicable that that collegium should revise its opinion and recommend a transfer.”
The letter also stated that such a transfer damages the reputation of an honest judge and lowers the image of the judiciary before the eyes of the public.
The lawyers in the letter stated that Chief Justice Banerjee has passed several orders upholding constitutional rights, values of free speech, secularism, free and fair elections, right to health, and state accountability that may well have earned the ire of those in power.
The Madras High Court lawyers said that Justice Sanjib Banerjee had in a recent order dismissed a Public Interest Litigation seeking to prevent the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu from chairing an advisory committee under the Hindu Religious and Endowment (HR&CE) Act until he takes a pledge in front of a Hindu God in a nearby temple.
The Lawyers requested the Collegium to reconsider the decision to transfer Justice Sanjib Banerjee from Madras High Court which is a chartered court having sanctioned strength of 75 judicial officers to Meghalaya court that was formed in 2013 with a current strength f two judges.