Former Chief Justice of Madras HC Sanjib Banerjee was transferred to the Meghalaya High Court in a move that has been termed opaque.

Justice M Duraiswamy who was appointed as acting Chief Justice of Madras High Court after former CJ Sanjib Banerjee's transferImage Courtesy:
news Judiciary Thursday, November 18, 2021 - 12:05

Justice M Duraiswamy was appointed as the acting Chief Justice of the Madras High Court on Wednesday, November 17. Justice Sanjib Banerjee, who was earlier heading the High Court, was transferred as the Chief Justice of the Meghalaya High Court a couple of days ago. A Law Ministry notification said Justice Duraiswamy, the senior-most judge of the Madras HC, will be the acting Chief Justice with effect from November 17.

When Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari, transferred from the Allahabad HC to the Madras HC, joins his new posting, he will become the acting Chief Justice, the notification said. Once Justice Bhandari joins the Madras High Court, he will be the senior-most judge of the Madras HC.

Justice Sanjib Banerjee's transfer triggered a major controversy, as it has been perceived as a ‘punitive measure’. Many senior advocates of the Madras High Court have protested the move. The Bar Association of the Madras High Court had also passed a resolution against Sanjib Banerjee's transfer to a relatively smaller court. Meghalaya High Court has just three judges compared to the Madras High Court strength of a sanctioned 75 judges.

Read: Routine transfer or punishment? HC advocates divided over Madras HC CJ’s transfer

Justice Sanjib Banerjee, who joined Madras High Court as its Chief Justice in January 2021, had only served for 11 months when he was transferred. In its resolution, the Bar Association said it was deeply concerned with the opaqueness surrounding the transfers.

In his farewell message, Justice Sanjib Bannerjee wrote addressing his staff that he regretted not being able to completely demolish the feudal culture in which they serve. Addressing those who he may have offended by his actions, he wrote, “Please know that they were never personal...I perceived those actions as necessary for the institution.” His message also addressed members of the Madras Bar Association, saying, “To the members of the bar, you are among the best in the country and have suffered a talkative and sometimes grumpy old judge with more patience, respect and understanding than I may have deserved. My sincere gratitude to you for all your kind words.”

Read: ‘Regret that I couldn't demolish feudal culture’: Madras HC CJ writes farewell note

With PTI inputs

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