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Madras High Court Chief Justice transfer to Meghalaya made official amid protests

- November 16, 2021

Chennai, Nov 16 (BPNS)

The decision of the Supreme Court collegium to transfer  Madras High Court Chief Justice, Sanjib Banerjee to Meghalaya High Court has now become official after the Union government formally notified it on Monday.

A statement from the Justice Department, Government of India read,” In exercise of the power conferred under the Constitution of India, Honourable President of India in consultation with Hon Chief Justice of India is pleased to transfer Justice Sanjib Banerjee, CJ Madras High Court as CJ Meghalaya High court.”

The legal fraternity of Madras High court was conducting protests on the reported transfer of the Chief Justice to Meghalaya High Court. The lawyers were protesting that Justice Sanjib Banerjee had assumed office as the Chief Justice of Madras High Court only in January 2021 and that his transfer only after serving ten months in Madras High court was unfounded.

Retired Judges and senior lawyers had questioned the wisdom to transfer Justice Sanjib Banerjee from Madras High Court which is a chartered high court with a strength of 75 judges to a relatively low profile high court like Meghalaya which has a sanctioned strength of only four judges.

237 lawyers of the Madras High court had sent a letter to the collegium requesting it to reconsider the decision to transfer Justice Sanjib Banerjee. 31 designated lawyers of the High court have also sent a letter to the collegium on the reason behind the transfer and to explain it to them. Madras Bar Association (MBA) and Madras High Court Advocates Association (MHAA) had also sent request letters to the collegium to reconsider the decision.

Justice Sanjib Banerjee was a favourite among the advocates for his forthright comments and judgments with a stamp of authority. He has been a strong votary for the cause of environment and in all the cases related to environmental and river degradation, he used to personally hear the cases and to intervene and properly give judge.

He had also taken strong stand in some judgments including one during the recent assembly elections in April 2021 in which he had warned the Election Commission of India that murder charges could be invoked for its failure to take proper precautions in enforcing Covid norms during the assembly elections in April 2021.

The collegium which had taken the decision to transfer Justice Sanjib Banerjee to Meghalaya High court on September 16 made it public only on November 9. Justice Sanjib Banerjee is the third Chief Justice of Madras High Court since 2018.