Days after senior justices of the Madras High Court sought an explanation from the Tamil Nadu Governor’s office over a protocol goof-up at the swearing-in ceremony of Chief Justice Vijaya Kamlesh Tahilramani, they boycotted the Independence Day ‘at home’ tea party hosted by Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit on Wednesday.
While Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam attended the reception and planted rose shrubs in the garden of the Raj Bhavan, the justices gave the do a miss. Rows of chairs marked for “Hon’ble Judges” were seen to be empty at the Governor’s residence in Chennai.
The swearing-in ceremony of the Chief Justice of Madras High Court on Sunday had irked the senior justices as they were made to sit behind ministers and police officers during the event.
Justice MS Ramesh, one of the judges present during the ceremony, expressed his disappointment at the protocol breach. He said that this breach was not only a disappointment but also an issue of serious concern.
“Was the Raj Bhavan unaware of the hierarchy between the Constitutional dignitaries and the police officers? Or is it their understanding that the HC Judges rank below the order of Hon'ble Ministers and Police Officers?” he questioned.
According to one report in the Indian Express, “The Governor’s secretary, R Rajagopal, was on the stage with Chief Secretary Girija Vaidyanathan. Also, SR Jangid, a DGP-rank officer with close links to Rajagopal, was seated ahead of the judges."
“I, as an individual, have no problem in being seated anywhere, but I as a judge of the High Court definitely have a problem with the incautious protocol followed today. The judges deserve an explanation from whosoever was responsible for this,” Justice Ramesh told Mohamed Imranullah S of The Hindu.
Madras High Court had sought an explanation from Governor’s secretary, R Rajagopal, who appeared in Court the following day. Justice Ramesh also reminded the government about a similar incident that happened in Madurai during the Meenakshi Thirukalyanam earlier this year. He said that the concerns raised about the seating arrangements after that event have not been answered yet by the officers in-charge.