HIGHLIGHTS

  • President has ordered the transfer of Delhi HC judge Muralidhar
  • Justice Muralidhar was critical of the Delhi Police’s role in containing violence
  • Supreme Court had recommended the transfer last week

Justice S Muralidhar, who heard the petitions on Delhi violence on Wednesday and slammed Delhi Police over continuous violence over 3 days, has been transferred to the Punjab and Haryana High Court. President Kovind has ordered the transfer following the recommendation by Supreme Court.

A notification issued by the Ministry of Law and Justice announced that the President has taken the decision after consulting the Chief Justice of India.

Delhi HC Judge S Muralidhar has now been transferred to the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The Supreme Court had recommended the transfer last week, following which Delhi High Court launched a protest against the move.

The Supreme Court collegium had recommended the transfer of 3 judges on February 12. The notifications for these transfers were issued late on Wednesday night.

Justice Muralidhar was hearing the Delhi violence case on Wednesday. The late evening notification of his transfer came on the same day when a bench headed by him expressed “anguish” over the Delhi Police’s failure to register FIRs against alleged hate speeches by three BJP leaders, including Kapil Mishra.

The law ministry notification, however, does not mention when he has to take charge of his office.

As the toll in Delhi violence crossed 20, Justice Muralidhar said Delhi cannot afford to witness another 1984-like situation, referring to the anti-Sikh riots in which thousands were killed in the national capital.

The court asked the special commissioner of police, who was present in court, to forthwith convey its “anguish” to the commissioner and observed that the city had seen enough violence and it should not witness another 1984 anti-Sikh riots-like incident.

The bench of justices S Muralidhar and Talwant Singh said when the police can register 11 FIRs in connection with incidents of violence, including arson, looting, stone pelting, why did it not show alacrity when it came to the alleged hate speeches by the three BJP leaders — Anurag Thakur, Parvesh Verma and Kapil Mishra.

“Why are you not showing alacrity when it comes to registration of FIR in these cases? We want peace to prevail. We do not want the city to witness another 1984 riots. This city has seen enough violence and anguish. Let it not repeat 1984,” the bench said.

Before dictating the order, the bench remarked, “The city is burning”. To this, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said, “The city is not burning. It’s only a few areas.”

Justice Muralidhar also held a late-night hearing at his residence on Tuesday midnight and asked Delhi Police to ensure safety of all those who have been injured in Delhi violence and need help.

Earlier on Wednesday, Justice Muralidhar had said, “We cannot let another 1984-like event happen in this country” and asked the government – at the centre and in Delhi – to work together to combat unrelenting violence that hit parts of the national capital for a fourth consecutive day.

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The Delhi High Court Bar Association had last week condemned Justice S Muralidhar’s transfer.

The comment came in a tense hearing during which videos of hate speeches by four BJP leaders – Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur, Abhay Verma and Parvesh Verma – were played. The hearing was on a petition seeking First Information Reports (FIRs) against those who incited and participated in the violence in northeast Delhi.

The judge asked why there shouldn’t be FIRs against the four BJP leaders. He told the Delhi Police chief to “seriously consider the consequences” of not registering the FIR.

When the centre, represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued that FIRs would be registered at an “appropriate time”, Justice Muralidhar said: “What’s the appropriate time, Mr Mehta? The city is burning”.

The judge had asked the police to appear on Thursday with a status report. The case is now listed before the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, Justice Dhirubhai Naranbhai Patel.

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

“The midnight transfer of Justice Muralidhar isn’t shocking given the current dispensation, but it is certainly sad and shameful. Millions of Indians have faith in a resilient and upright judiciary, the government’s attempts to muzzle justice & break their faith are deplorable,” tweeted Priyanka Gandhi.

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