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Amid Tahilramani’s Shifting Row, SC Justifies HC Judges’ Transfers

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

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In an apparent bid to douse the row over shifting of the Madras High Court Chief Justice V K Tahilramani to the Meghalaya High Court, the Supreme Court on Thursday, 12 September, said each of the recommendations for transfer of Chief Justices and Judges of various high courts was based on "cogent reasons".

Without naming Justice Tahilramani, a statement issued by the office of apex court’s Secretary General Sanjeev S Kalgaonkar 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.

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What Happened?

The judge resigned on 6 September, days after the Supreme Court Collegium declined her request for reconsideration of her transfer.

She sent her resignation letter to President Ram Nath Kovind, a copy of which was sent to Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. The resignation is yet to be accepted or rejected.

Her transfer also 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.

About 2,000 advocates in Latur district of Maharashtra have decided to boycott court proceedings on Friday to protest against the transfer, according to advocate Balaji Panchal, a former vice president of the Latur Bar Association.

Tahilramani hails from Latur in Marathwada region.

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What Does The SC Statement Say?

"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,” said the statement by the secretary general.

“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 further added.

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

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What Was The Collegium’s Recommendations?

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 8 August last year, to the Meghalaya High Court.

The collegium had recommended her transfer on 28 August, 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 – 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 26 June 2001. She is to due to retire on 2 October 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.

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