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Had no objection to transfer: Justice Muralidhar

By HT Correspondent
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2020 11:45 PM IST

At his Delhi high court farewell function on Thursday, justice S Muralidhar cleared the air on his transfer, saying he had told Chief Justice of India (CJI) S A Bobde that he had no objection when the CJI wrote to him about his imminent shift to the Punjab and Haryana high court.

On his last day at Delhi high court, scores of court staff and lawyers gathered on the court premises to bid goodbye to justice Muralidhar, whose transfer had sparked a controversy in political and legal circles. Rajesh Malhotra, who has been working at the high court for 25 years, said he had never seen such a fond farewell for any other judge .

The notification of his transfer came late in the night of February 26, hours after he had rebuked Delhi police for its failure to register first information reports (FIRs) against political leaders who made hate speeches that may have fuelled the communal violence that rocked north-east Delhi on the preceding days.

In his farewell speech, justice Muralidhar said, “In my case, the collegium’s decision was communicated to me by the CJI on February 17 by a letter which sought my response.

“As I saw it, if I was going to be transferred from the Delhi high court any way, I was fine with moving to the Punjab and Haryana high court. I therefore clarified to the CJI that I did not object to the proposal,” said Muralidhar, who said the CJI’s letter dated February 14 was delivered to him three days later, when the family’s pet labrador Sakhi breathed her last.

On February 26, he said the day began with him hearing an urgent matter with Justice AJ Bhambhani at 12.30 am at his residence. He said he heard the matter on the request of justice G S Sistani whom he rang when the petitioner called him. The petitioner had sought safe passage for those injured in the communal violence to medical institutions with good facilities.

“…Justice Sistani explained that he too was officially on leave the whole of February 26 and that I should take up the matter. This fact is stated in the order passed by the bench after the hearing. Later that day, upon urgent mentioning, as the de facto CJ’s bench, justice Talwant Singh and I took up another fresh PIL on the CJ’s board seeking registration of FIRs for hate speeches. After the orders passed on that day, the above two PILs remained on the CJ’s Board,” he said.

Concluding his speech in presence of his wife Usha Ranganathan, justice Muralidhar said: “The notification issued close to midnight of February 26 did two things. First, it transferred me to the Punjab and Haryana high court. Second, it appointed me to a position from where I can never be transferred, or removed and in which I shall always be proud to remain”.

Speaking at the farewell, Delhi HC chief justice D N Patel said it Muralidhar’s will be felt institutionally as well as personally.

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