Government Says Judge's Transfer "Routine", "Consent Taken" Amid Row

Justice S Muralidhar Transfer: Such transfer orders usually give judges 14 days to join; this was the case in six previous transfers.

Government Says Judge's Transfer 'Routine', 'Consent Taken' Amid Row

Justice Muralidhar has been transferred to the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

New Delhi:

Responding to a controversy over the transfer of a high court judge S Muralidhar on a day he made sharp comments on police inaction in the Delhi violence and hate speeches by BJP leaders, the government today said a "well-settled process" had been followed and the judge's consent had been taken.

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad accused the Congress of "politicizing a routine transfer", in a series of tweets.

"Transfer of Hon'ble Justice Muralidhar was done pursuant to the recommendation dated 12.02.2020 of the Supreme Court collegium headed by Chief Justice of India. While transferring the judge consent of the judge is taken. The well-settled process has been followed (sic)," the law minister tweeted.

"By politicising a routine transfer, Congress has yet again displayed its scant regard for the judiciary. People of India have rejected Congress Party and hence it is hell bent on destroying the very institutions India cherishes by constantly attacking them," Mr Prasad posted.

Justice Muralidhar, the third highest judge of the Delhi High Court, was transferred to the Punjab and Haryana High Court through a notification put out around 11 pm on Wednesday night, about two weeks after the Supreme Court panel's recommendation.

The government's notification did not give the judge a 14-day period to join his new post, which is usually the case. The judge, who had asked the police to appear with a status report today, did not hear any more cases and announced in court his "last judicial act as judge of this court".

In the hearing on Wednesday on the northeast Delhi violence in which 32 have been killed, Justice Muralidhar had said, "We cannot let another 1984-like event happen in this country".

The two-judge bench played videos of hate speeches by four BJP leaders - Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur, Abhay Verma and Parvesh Verma - in court and asked why there shouldn't be FIRs against them.

When the centre said FIRs would be registered at an "appropriate time", Justice Muralidhar said: "What's the appropriate time? The city is burning".

Among those who criticized Justice Muralidhar's transfer were Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

Rahul Gandhi's tweet referred to Justice BH Loya, whose death in 2014, while he was hearing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter killing case in which Amit Shah was an accused, became a huge political controversy.

Mr Prasad responded, tweeting: "The Loya judgement has been well settled by the Supreme Court. Those raising questions do not respect the judgment of the Apex Court pronounced after elaborate arguments. Does Rahul Gandhi consider himself above even the Supreme Court?"

He said a "party, which is the private property of one family, has no right to lecture about objectionable speeches" and referred to the Emergency imposed by the Congress in 1975 to attack the party on judicial independence.
 

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