Tahilramani allocates civil contempt of court petitions to designated bench

Chennai: Madras High Court Chief Justice Vijaya K Tahilramani in an administrative order allocated civil contempt of court petitions to a designated bench and not before the judges whose orders have been disobeyed, which was the custom so far.

It is understood that this was done before she tendered her resignation to President Ram Nath Kovind, days after the Supreme Court Collegium declined her request for reconsideration of transfer to Meghalaya.

The decision of allocating petitions can have a direct impact on the contempt plea moved by court-appointed special officer Pon Manickavel against former Chief Secretary Girija Vaidyanathan and ex-DGP T K Rajendran for allegedly not obeying a special bench’s order in idol theft cases and provide adequate infrastructure for the idol wing of the CID.

The contempt plea, which was so far heard by the bench of Justice Mahadevan and Justice Audikesavalu which originally passed the order, has been transferred to a division bench of Justice M M Sundresh and Justice R M T Teekaa Raman.

When the plea came up for hearing on Thursday, the bench headed by Justice Sundresh said they would simply adjourn the plea to 19 September as they needed time to understand the rationale behind the administrative order.

“The matter requires some thinking. Even the Bar has to think about the administrative order. We would call for a clarification from the registrar general,” the bench said.

Earlier, the additional advocate general opposed the contempt plea and submitted that prima facie it is not maintainable as the state has already moved the Supreme Court on the appeal, which had made some modifications in its 30 November, 2018 order.

On 30 August, Pon Manickavel filed a sub-application in the contempt plea, alleging that the state government, in a bid to stall the inquiries of the idol wing CID into the alleged idol theft cases, had gone to the extent of refusing salary to even a sanitary worker deputed to it’s Tiruchi office.

Due to such acts of the state and total non-cooperation of other police officials, I couldn’t even register a single FIR for the past eight months,” Manickavel had alleged.