More than 200 lawyers of the Madras High Court have written to the Supreme Court collegium objecting to the transfer of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee to the Meghalaya High Court, Live Law reported on Friday.
While the collegium recommended the transfer on September 16, it was made public on November 9.
A total of 237 lawyers have sent the letter to the members of the Supreme Court collegium – Chief Justice of India NV Ramana and Justices UU Lalit, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and L Nageswara. They have questioned whether Chief Justice Banerjee’s transfer was in public interest or for better administration of justice.
“While transfers for better administration of justice may be necessary in principle, members of the Bar have the right to know why a competent, fearless judge and an efficient administrator of a large High Court where more than 35,000 cases were filed this year should be transferred to a Court where the total number of cases instituted in a month is on an average 70-75,” the letter stated.
The advocates also noted that during Chief Justice Banerjee’s tenure, several inquiries were instituted to check corruption in the judiciary, The Hindu reported. “His [Chief Justice Banerjee’s] intolerance for corruption and inefficiency is well known and widely appreciated,” they said.
“The instant transfer would quell any such efforts to strengthen the judiciary in the State,” the lawyers said.
The lawyers said that secrecy surrounding the collegium’s decisions and the lack of stated criteria lead to a perception of arbitrariness.
Chief Justice Banerjee was appointed to the post on January 4. Since then, he has made several significant judicial interventions to hold the government accountable.
In September, a bench headed by him had held that an earlier Bombay High Court order staying the implementation of Rule 9 (1) and (3) of the Centre’s new information technology-related rules ought to have a pan-India effect, The Wire noted.
The provisions require adherence to a code of ethics and create a three-tier structure to address grievances in relation to publishers.
At the height of the second wave of the coronavirus in April, he had remarked that the Election Commission should be booked on charges of murder for allowing political rallies to continue in poll-bound states.