The recommendation of the Supreme Court collegium to transfer Justice S Muralidhar of the Delhi High Court to the Punjab & Haryana High Court has created quite a flutter in the legal circles. In an urgent meeting of its Executive Committee on Wednesday, the Delhi High Court Bar Association resolved to abstain from work on February 20 to protest against Justice Muralidhar’s transfer. Describing him as one of the “finest” judges, the Association claimed that the SC Collegium’s move was detrimental to the institution.
The resolution mentioned that such transfers impeded free and fair delivery of justice. It expressed hope that the SC Collegium would reconsider the transfer. Furthermore, the Association alleged that this transfer was a “rarest of the rare” case. If the Centre decides to send back Justice Muralidhar's file, the Collegium can either reiterate its recommendation or do a rethink.
Strong statement by Delhi High Court Bar Association protesting the Supreme Court collegium's decision to transfer Justice Muralidhar. pic.twitter.com/d4djwuQEMU— Prasanna S (@prasanna_s) February 19, 2020
Commencing his law practice in September 1984 in Chennai, he shifted to the national capital in 1987. Thereafter, he worked as a lawyer in many high-profile cases such as the Bhopal Gas Disaster and the Narmada displacement. Moreover, he served as the counsel for the National Human Rights Commission and the Election Commission of India. In 2003, he was awarded the PhD degree by Delhi University. His book `Law, Poverty and Legal Aid: Access to Criminal Justice' was published by LexisNexis Butterworths in August 2004. Subsequently, he was elevated as a judge of the Delhi High Court in 2006.
As a judge, he delivered many landmark verdicts such as the Hashimpura massacre case and the decriminalisation of homosexuality. He has also been at the receiving end of criticism in recent times. For instance, he set aside the transit remand of activist Gautam Navlakha in the Bhima Koregoan- Elgar Parishad case in 2018.
Thereafter, S Gurumurthy- now a non-official director on the Reserve Bank of India Board publicly questioned this verdict. He alleged that the order was influenced by the alleged association between Navlakha and Usha Ramanathan, Justice Muralidhar’s wife. The latter has been at the forefront of opposing the Aadhaar programme.