SC Collegium recalls decision to transfer Justice S Muralidhar to Madras HC

The collegium had recommended the transfer of Orissa HC Chief Justice S Muralidhar as Madras HC Chief Justice last year, but it has remained pending with the government without any response

Delhi High Court, judge, S Muralidhar, transfer, Punjab and Haryana High Court, Delhi violence, Delhi police, FIR, BJP leaders, hate speech, Parvesh Verma, Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur
Orissa High Court Chief Justice S Muralidhar demits office on August 7, 2023 Photo: LiveLaw

The Supreme Court Collegium headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud on Wednesday recalled its recommendation to transfer Orissa High Court Chief Justice S Muralidhar as Madras High Court Chief Justice, noting that its resolution has remained pending with the government without any response.

The Collegium, which also comprises Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, KM Joseph, MR Shah and Ajay Rastogi, said, “The Collegium resolved on September 28, 2022 to transfer Justice S Muralidhar, Chief Justice of the High Court of Orissa to the Madras High Court. The recommendation has remained pending with the Government of India since then without any response. Justice Muralidhar now demits office on 7 August 2023 leaving less than four months’ time.”

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“In view of this delay, the resolution recommending the transfer of Justice S Muralidhar is recalled to facilitate the appointment of a permanent Chief Justice in the Madras High Court by the appointment of Justice SV Gangapurwala as its Chief Justice, as the High Court has remained without a permanent Chief Justice for more than 6 months,” the Collegium said.

Not the first time

The collegium had recommended the transfer of Orissa High Court Chief Justice S Muralidhar as the Chief Justice of Madras High Court on September 28 last year. While the Centre approved the recommendation for transfer of another Chief Justice made in the same resolution, the proposal regarding transfer of Justice Muralidhar was kept on hold.

Interestingly, this is not the first time that Centre has sat on the Collegium’s recommendation. There have been instances in the past as well with the recommendations being kept pending for years sometimes.

Delhi to Punjab transfer drew flak

Earlier also, Justice Muralidhar’s transfer from Delhi to the Punjab and Haryana High Court in February 2020 had drawn severe flak from various quarters after the judge had ordered police action over alleged inflammatory speeches by top BJP leaders during the Delhi riots. The transfer was notified soon after he directed the Delhi police to take a decision regarding registration of FIR for inflammatory speeches against politicians such as Anurag Thakur, Pravesh Verma, Abhay Verma and Kapil Mishra in connection with the 2020 Delhi riots.

Opinion: Govt can’t hide behind collegium over Judge Muralidhar’s transfer

In January 2021, Justice Muralidhar was sworn in as the Chief Justice of Orissa High Court. Several initiatives launched by Chief Justice Muralidhar at the Orissa High Court such as e-courts system and virtual access facilities have been praised by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud on several occasions.

Justice Muralidhar began his law practice in Chennai in September 1984. He shifted to the Supreme Court and Delhi High Court in 1987. He was appointed judge of Delhi High Court in 2006. He was a part of the High Court bench that first legalised homosexuality in the 2009 Naz Foundation case. He also led the division bench that convicted members of the Uttar Pradesh Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) in the Hashimpura massacre case and Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case.

(With Agency inputs)