Justice S Muralidhar, whose transfer to the Punjab and Haryana High Court had evoked strong political reactions, on Thursday apprised judges and lawyers of the Delhi High Court about the sequence of communication on his transfer. Speaking at his farewell function, Justice Muralidhar said he had no problem with his transfer.
“On February 17, I received a letter from the Collegium informing me about the proposal to transfer me and sought my response. I acknowledged the letter. If I was to be transferred, I was fine with P&H HC, I said,” Justice Muralidhar said. He will be taking oath as a judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Friday where he will be heading the second division bench.
A row had erupted after the Centre issued a notification of Justice Muralidhar’s transfer on the night of February 26—the day a bench headed by him had pulled up Delhi Police for not registering a case against three BJP leaders for their alleged hate speeches in the run-up to the violence, which left over 50 dead and many injured. While the Opposition had termed the timing of transfer as shameful, the Union government and the BJP accused Opposition leaders of politicising a “routine” transfer.
Justice Muralidhar also said, “When justice has to triumph, it will triumph … Be with the truth – Justice will be done.”
On February 12, the Supreme Court Collegium, headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde, had recommended the transfer of Justice Muralidhar along with Justice Ranjit V More from the Bombay High Court to the Meghalaya High Court and Justice Ravi Vijaykumar Malimath from the Karnataka High Court to the Uttarakhand High Court.
On February 26, a notification from the Department of Justice in the Ministry of Law and Justice had said: “In exercise of the power conferred by clause (1) of Article 222 of the Constitution of India, the President, after consultation with the Chief Justice of India, is pleased to transfer Shri Justice S Muralidhar, Judge of the Delhi High Court, as a Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and to direct him to assume charge of his office in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.”
Verdict on homosexuality most moving moment: Justice Muralidhar
The transfer of Justice Muralidhar, who is known for his bold pronouncements on communal violence and personal liberty, was condemned “unequivocally and in the strongest possible terms” by the Delhi High Court Bar Association.
Recalling one of his most moving verdicts during his tenure as Delhi High Court Judge, Justice Muralidhar said when a bench involving him scrapped the penal provision which criminalised sexual intercourse between two consenting individuals, it was a moving moment for him, PTI reported.
He said, at the time of pronouncing the judgement, he and the then Chief Justice of the high court A P Shah knew that something “irreversible” had happened. “The relief that swept through the courtroom amongst those waiting to hear the verdict was palpable. Many broke down right here in front of us,” Justice Muralidhar shared.
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