Four days before he was set to retire as Chief Justice of Madras High Court, the Centre appointed Justice M N Bhandari as the Chairman of the Appellate Tribunal under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). Justice Bhandari is due to retire on September 12.
“The President of India is pleased to appoint Hon’ble Mr Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari, Chief Justice, Madras High Court as Chairman, Appellate Tribunal under the Smugglers and Foreign Exchange Manipulators Act (SAFEMA) in the salary of Rs. 2,50,000/ -(Fixed) p.m., for a period of 04 years, or till attaining the age of seventy years, or until further orders, whichever is the earliest in terms of Tribunal (Conditions of Service) Rules, 2021 read with Tribunal Reforms Act, 2021 published on 13.08.2021,” a notification dated September 8 read.
The order was issued by the Department of Revenue under the Ministry of Finance. The Tribunal for Forfeiture of Property under the SAFEMA and the PMLA Appellate Tribunal were merged in 2016 through the Finance Act, 2016. The post of the Chairperson of the Tribunal was vacant since September 2019.
“Hon’ble Mr Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari is required to take charge of the post of Chairman, Appellate Tribunal under SAFEMA within 30 days from the date of issue of this order. He is also requested to submit his medical fitness from an authority specified by the Central Government before assuming charge of the post as Chairman in the Tribunal,” the order added.
Justice Bhandari was appointed a judge of the Rajasthan High Court in July 2007. He was then transferred to the Allahabad High Court in March 2019 and was appointed the Acting Chief Justice of that high Court in June 2019. When the Supreme Court collegium recommended the transfer of then Madras High Court Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee as Chief Justice of the Meghalaya High Court, Justice Bhandari was transferred to Madras High Court from Allahabad. He later took over as acting chief justice and in February this year was appointed Chief Justice of the High Court.