The Ministry of Law and Justice officially notified the resignation of Madras High Court Chief Justice VK Tahilramani. According to the notification, she handed over her papers in pursuance of proviso (a) to clause (1) of Article 217 of the Constitution of India. The resignation is applicable from the afternoon of September 6, 2019. Subsequently, the President of India Ram Nath Kovind, appointed Justice Vineet Kothari, the senior-most judge in the Madras High Court as the Acting Chief Justice to fill the vacuum.
Justice Tahilramani was the senior-most among all the current High Court judges and Chief Justices in the country. In August 2018, she was transferred from the Bombay High Court to the Madras High Court where she assumed charge as the Chief Justice. On August 28, 2019, the Supreme Court collegium recommended her transfer to the Meghalaya High Court "in the interest of better administration of justice". Simultaneously, they called for the transfer of Justice AK Mittal, Chief Justice of the Meghalaya High Court to the Madras High Court. This virtual swap led to a lot of speculation among the legal fraternity in the country. Officially, Justice Tahilramani requested the SC collegium to reconsider her transfer. However, on September 3, the collegium rejected her plea after going through her representation and taking into consideration all the factors.
Subsequently, the Madras High Court Chief Justice tendered her resignation to the President on September 6. She made her bent of mind clear in a dinner meeting of judges in Chennai. Afterwards, members of the Bar Association in Madras High Court staged protests taking cognizance of this latest development. The advocates impressed upon the need for transparency in the system. They also demanded that the Chief Justice of India advise the collegium to reverse the order and to restore Justice Tahilramani back to her original post. Then, the Secretary-General of the SC issued a statement on September 12, defending the decision of the collegium. According to him, it was done for "cogent reasons" and there would be no hesitation on the part of the collegium to disclose them in the public domain.
(With PTI inputs)