No Central Nod For Transfer of Judge Who Made Headlines During Delhi Riots

An earlier transfer of Justice Muralidhar -- from the Delhi High Court to the Punjab and Haryana High Court -- had made headlines. The midnight transfer took place amid strong opposition from the Delhi Bar Association, which condemned it.

No Central Nod For Transfer of Judge Who Made Headlines During Delhi Riots

Justice S Muralidhar was part of the High Court bench that legalized homosexuality in 2009.

New Delhi:

The name of the Justice S Muralidhar, recommended for the position of the Chief Justice of Madras High Court by the Supreme Court Collegium, has not been cleared by Centre yet. The government today approved the other name suggested for transfer by the Collegium through a resolution dated September 28.

Justice Pankaj Mithal, Chief Justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court will soon take over as the Chief Justice of Rajasthan High Court. But there is no word on Justice Muralidhar.  

An earlier transfer of Justice Muralidhar -- from the Delhi High Court to the Punjab and Haryana High Court -- had made headlines. The midnight transfer took place amid strong opposition from the Delhi Bar Association, which condemned it.  

The transfer letter came in February 2020, a day after the judge ordered police action over alleged inflammatory speeches by the BJP's Anurag Thakur, Parvesh Verma, Abhay Vema and Kapil Mishra during the Delhi riots.   

"We cannot let another 1984-like event happen in this country," he had said during the hearing.

"Unequivocally and in the strongest possible terms, the Delhi High Court Bar Association condemns the said transfer effected by the collegium of the Supreme Court. Such transfers are not only detrimental to our noble institution but also tend to erode and dislodge the faith of the common litigant in the justice dispensation system," read a statement by the Bar Association.

Lawyers in the Delhi High Court abstained from work for a day and an international group of lawyers wrote to then President Ram Nath Kovind about the issue.  

The government said the judge's transfer was routine, recommended by the Supreme Court collegium on February 12, and his consent had been taken, as is the norm.  

Justice Muralidhar had started as a lawyer who did pro bono work for the victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy and those displaced by the dams on the river Narmada.

His landmark verdicts included a life term for Congress leader Sajjan Kumar for the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and the conviction of policemen for the Hashimpura massacre, in which 42 Muslim men were picked up and killed in 1987. He was also part of the High Court bench that first legalized homosexuality in 2009.

This is not the first time the government has split the recommendation of the Supreme Court Collegium.

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