New Delhi – Delhi HC Judge S Muralidhar was transferred to the Punjab and Haryana High Court, days after the Supreme Court collegium made the recommendation.
The judge was hearing the Delhi violence case and the late evening notification came on the 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.
A notification issued by the Ministry of Law and Justice states that the president took the decision after consulting the Chief Justice of India.
The notification, however, does not mention when he has to take the charge of his office.
The gazette notification couldn’t have been more curiously timed, observed The Wire a New Delhi based news portal.
Earlier in the day, Justice Muralidhar presided over three sittings where urgent pleas relating to police inaction in the Delhi riots came up.
Justice Muralidhar and Justice A.J. Bhambhani held an emergency sitting at 1 a.m. on Wednesday following an urgent plea from counsel representing the Al Hind Hospital in Mustafabad, North East Delhi.
The hospital asked the court to direct the Delhi Police to help it shift over 20 persons injured in the riots to the government-run GTB hospital where they could receive proper treatment. The police did not respond to its call for help and only escorted the patients out when the high court bench ordered them to do so.
Pulls up police for inaction
Also on Wednesday, Justice Muralidhar pulled up the Delhi police and solicitor general Tushar Mehta for not following the guidelines on registering an FIR when complaints were brought to it about inflammatory speeches made by BJP leaders Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur, Parvesh Varma and others. Guidelines mandate the registering of an FIR if a cognisable offence is disclosed, or else a time-bound enquiry.
The hearing was on an urgent petition filed by social activists Harsh Mander and Farah Naqvi.
Dismissing the protests by Mehta, the judge ordered the police to respond by Thursday on whether they intend to file FIRs or not.
Hearing compares 2020 riots to Delhi in 1984
Justice Muralidhar’s third hearing on the riots – a continuation of the early morning one – saw the police confirming that all the patients of Al Hind Hospital had been shifted to safety.
“This shows that a lot can happen when the authorities are willing to take action. It’s an actual demonstration of how police officers are waiting for the orders to act”, he said.
In his final order, he directed the government to ensure displaced riot victims are provided temporary shelter and that medical treatment and counselling are also ensured for them.
Transfer of Justice Muralidhar done on recommendation of SC collegium: Govt
Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday said Justice S Muralidhar of the Delhi High Court was transferred on the recommendation of the Supreme Court collegium and accused the Congress of politicising a routine transfer.
He added that a “well-settled process” was followed in the transfer of Justice Muralidhar to the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
“By politicising a routine transfer, Congress has yet again displayed its scant regard for the judiciary,” Prasad said in a series of tweets.
His reaction came after the Congress alleged that Justice Muralidhar was transferred by the government to save BJP leaders in the Delhi violence case.
“Transfer of Hon’ble Justice Muralidhar was done pursuant to the recommendation dated February 12 of the Supreme Court collegium headed by Chief Justice of India,” the minister said.
He said a judge’s consent is taken before transferring him or her.
Continuing his attack on the opposition party, Prasad said the people of India have rejected the Congress and “hence it is hell bent on destroying the very institutions India cherishes by constantly attacking them”.
Referring to a tweet by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on the death of Judge Loya, the Union minister said the Loya judgement had 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 asked.
“Remembering the brave Judge Loya, who wasn’t transferred,” Gandhi had tweeted this morning.
Prasad said the government respects the independence of the judiciary.
“The record of Congress in compromising independence of judiciary, superseding judges even of Supreme Court during Emergency is well known. They rejoice only when the judgment is of their liking otherwise raise questions on the institutions itself,” he said.
Prasad said the party which is the “private property of one family” has no right to lecture about objectionable speeches.
“The family and its cronies have routinely used the harshest words against the Courts, the Army, the CAG, the PM and the people of India,” the minister said.