The Calcutta High Court on 11-05-2023 welcomed its new Chief Justice, Justice Tirunelveli Subbiah Sivagnanam. After former Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court, Justice Prakash Shrivastava retired on 30-03-2023, Justice Sivagnanam, being the seniormost Judge at the time, took over as the Acting Chief Justice1.
His elevation as the Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court was notified by the Law Ministry on 01-05-20232. Justice Sivagnanam’s oath of office was administered by Governor C.V. Ananda Bose in presence of the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamta Bannerji, and other eminent leaders3.
Early Life and Career as an Advocate4
Justice T. S. Sivagnanam was born on 16-09-1963 to Dr. T.S. Subbiah and Nalini Subbiah. he completed his B.Sc. Degree at Loyola College, Chennai and obtained his Degree in Law from Madras Law College.
Justice Sivagnanam enrolled in the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu on 10-09-1986, and joined the chamber of R. Gandhi, a noted lawyer and well- known leader of the Bar.
Major Appointments as Special Counsel/Empanelment
Justice Sivagnanam was appointed as Additional Central Government Standing Counsel in 2000.
He was also empanelled as Counsel for Southern Railway in 2003.
Further, Justice Sivagnanam was appointed as Senior Panel Counsel for Central Government in 2004.
He was appointed as Panel Counsel for All India Council for Technical Education for appearance in High Court of Judicature at Madras and High Court of Andhra Pradesh in 2005.
He was appointed as Senior Panel Counsel for Customs & Central Excise Department during 2008.
Justice Sivagnanam was appointed as Special Counsel to appear for the Department of the Revenue before the CEGAT/CESTAT Chennai.
Justice Sivagnanam was also appointed as Special Counsel to appear for the Department of the Revenue before the Settlement Commission for Customs Cases, Chennai
In 2007, Justice Sivagnanam was nominated by the Chief Justice of Madras High Court as Panel Lawyer for appearing on behalf of the Registrar General/Officers/Judicial Officers
Career as a Judge
Justice Sivagnanam was later appointed as Additional Judge at the High Court of Madras on 31-03-2009 and as Permanent Judge on 29-03-20115.
After being Judge at the Madras High Court for 10 years, Justice T.S. Sivagnanam was sworn in as a Judge, High Court at Calcutta on 25.10.20216.
In a Resolution dated 09-02-2023, the Supreme Court Collegium recommended the appointment of Justice Sivagnanam as the next Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court upon the retirement of the then Chief Justice, Prakash Shrivastava7.
The recommendation received Presidential nod on 01-05-2023, and Justice T.S. Sivagnanam was sworn in Calcutta High Court’s Chief Justice on 11-05-20238.
Notable Judgments by Justice T.S. Sivagnanam
Calcutta High Court restricts Two wings of the same department, from initiating proceedings for same period while Audit Commissionerate asked to issued notice
While deciding an intra-court appeal wherein it was alleged that three wings of the same department viz. Audit Commissionerate, Anti Evasion wing and Range Office have proceeded against the appellant at the same time, a Division Bench comprising of TS Sivagnanam* and Supratim Bhattacharya, JJ., in R.P. Buildcon (P) Ltd. v. CGST, 2022 SCC OnLine Cal 3108, held that the Anti Evasion wing and Range Office shall not proceed any further till the proceedings under S. 65 CGST Act, 2017 reach the ‘logical end’….
The interest of revenue has been safeguarded; Order of detention against the State upheld in matter of GST Act? Calcutta HC answers
The Division Bench of T. S. Sivagnanam and Hiranmay Bhattacharyya, JJ., in Deputy Commissioner v. Nidhi Madhogaria, MAT 1332 of 2021, dismissed an appeal and connected application which was filed by the State against the order of detention passed by the authority detaining two trucks containing consignment of steel and other products in WPA 17611 of 2021 dated: 07-12-2021 wherein petitioner was the wife of late Mohit Madhogoria, who was a registered dealer under the provisions of the W.B.V.A.T. Act presently under the GST Act.
In absence of prescribed statutory form, filing of return/payment of tax sufficient compliance of Works Contract Composition Scheme: Calcutta HC
In a landmark judgment related to Works Contract Composition Scheme , a division bench comprising of T.S. Sivagnanam* and Hiranmay Bhattacharyya, JJ., in Larsen & Toubro Ltd. v. Service Tax Commissionerate, 2022 SCC OnLine Cal 3850 , held that rate of tax under Works Contract Composition Scheme will be 2% for all the projects where the option was exercised prior to change in rate of tax. Further since there is no statutory form prescribed, payment of tax and filing of return is sufficient compliance of exercise of option under the Scheme.
Madras High Court dismisses PIL seeking to ban campus recruitments made by PSUs
While dismissing the present PIL seeking to ban campus recruitments and restrain the Central and State Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) from taking part in campus interviews, the Division Bench of S.K. Kaul, C.J. and T.S. Sivagnanam, J., in M. Palanimuthu v. Ministry of Defence, 2015 SCC OnLine Mad 7861 , held that, given the current climate of competition, the process of campus recruitment is not arbitrary and observed that the practice of campus recruitment’s has been in existence for over a decade with no complaints being made against it. The Court further stated that the colleges, especially IITs have ensured that the students go through rigorous scheme of tests and interviews during the campus recruitment process.
Madras High Court upholds Central Board of Film Certification’s decision to refuse certification to “Porkalathil Oru Poo”
While deliberating upon the issue of refusal of certification by the CBFC to the film “Porkalathil Oru Poo” based on the life and trials of LTTE journalist Isai Priya , the Bench of T.S. Sivagnanam, J., in K. Ganeshan v. Film Certification Appellate Tribunal, 2016 SCC OnLine Mad 9355 , upheld the decision of the CBFC and the FCAT to refuse certification to the film for public exhibition on the grounds that the film has violated the right of privacy of the main character and her family members. The Court further observed that the film depicting the LTTE movement was full of violence, sexual preservations and reflected the Sri Lankan Government and Administration in bad light and that such depiction can jeopardize the relationship between India and Sri Lanka.
Whether currency of minor punishment can be treated as bar for promotion? Madras HC answers
The Full Bench of the Court comprising of M. Yusuf Eqbal, C.J., P. Jyothimani & T.S. Sivagnanam, JJ., in Deputy Inspector General of Police, Thanjavur Range v. V. Rani, 2011 SCC OnLine Mad 632, held that Rule 36(b)(ii) of Tamil Nadu State and Subordinate Service Rules cannot be read in isolation in order to come to conclusion that irrespective of merit and ability, even in cases of currency of punishment promotion should be granted by following seniority alone. Granting promotion blindly by following seniority is antithesis to service law. During currency of minor punishment, employee cannot claim as matter of right to be promoted to next category merely on basis that he is otherwise fit for promotion. The Full Bench also overruled the Division Bench judgment of Subramanian v. State of Tamil Nadu.9
1. Current Chief Justices of High Court as of 01-05-2023, Department of Justice
9. 2008 (5) MLJ 350