The Supreme Court collegium on Thursday recommended that Justice AP Sahi, the incumbent Chief Justice of the Patna High Court, be appointed as Chief Justice of Madras High Court. He will replace Justice Vineet Kothari, who is the acting Chief Justice of Madras High Court.
The collegium, in its meeting held on October 15, 2019, passed a resolution modifying its earlier recommendations dated August 28, 2019. The collegium’s decision was notified in a statement as opposed to a resolution — for the past two years, the collegium's decisions have been accompanied with the reasons behind the transfer.
Justice AK Mittal, the incumbent Chief Justice of Meghalaya High Court, was earlier recommended to replace Justice VK Tahilramani at the Madras High Court. However, Justice Mittal has now been transferred as the Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court. Sanjay Karol, the present Chief Justice of Tripura High Court will replace Justice AP Sahi as the Chief Justice of Patna, as per the collegium’s resolution.
Justice AP Sahi started his practice in the Allahabad High Court, gathering expertise in civil and constitutional matters. He was elevated as an Additional Judge of the Allahabad High Court in 2004 and his position was made permanent in 2005. He took over as the Chief Justice of Patna High Court in November 2018.
The earlier decision of the Supreme Court collegium swapping the Chief Justices of two high courts in the country – the Madras High Court and the Meghalaya High Court had triggered controversy.
While it could have been construed as an advancement for Justice AK Mittal, since the Madras High Court is one of the oldest high courts in India and is the fourth largest in the country in terms of number of judges, Justice VK Tahilramani was transferred to a court that was set up in 2013 with a strength of three judges. With her plea to the collegium to reconsider the transfer rejected, VK Tahilramani tendered her resignation in protest. Her resignation was accepted by the President of India on September 20 and Justice Vineet Kothari, the senior-most judge of the Madras High Court was designated as the acting Chief Justice of the court till further orders.