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SC Collegium recommends transfer of Justice Muralidhar

SC Collegium recommends transfer of Justice Muralidhar

New Delhi: After the Supreme Court Collegium recommended the transfer of Delhi High Court judge Justice S Muralidhar, the Delhi HC Bar Association (DHCBA) on Wednesday issued a statement expressing "shock, dismay and outrage at the transfer of one of the finest judges to have adorned the Bench..." The association has also passed a resolution requesting its members to abstain from working on Thursday as a sign of protest against such a transfer, which they called a "rarest of rare" case.

Justice Muralidhar, who is currently the third-most senior judge in the Delhi High Court, has been transferred to the Punjab and Haryana High Court without being elevated as a Chief Justice. The DHCBA has said the "majesty of our revered institution is at stake" and that it hopes the Supreme Court Collegium will revisit the issue and recall the move to transfer him.

During his career, Justice Muralidhar has had an impeccable record and often championed the cause of the disadvantaged. Notable judgments include the conviction of members of the Uttar Pradesh Provincial Armed Constabulary in the Hashimpura massacre case and Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in the 1984-anti-Sikh riots case.

Muralidhar was also part of the Bench that first decriminalised homosexuality in the 2009 Naz Foundation case and was one of the few judges who had done away with the practice of judges being referred to as "My Lord" or "Your Lordship".

Interestingly, this is not the first time his transfer has been proposed. In December 2018 and January of the following year, he was reportedly picked for a transfer out of the Delhi High Court, but the Supreme Court Collegium — headed by the then CJI Ranjan Gogoi had shot down the idea.

The DHCBA has said it "unequivocally and in the strongest possible terms" condemns the transfer and that such transfers "are not only detrimental to our noble institution but also tend to erode and dislodge the faith of the common litigant in the justice dispensation system".

In addition to Justice Muralidhar's transfer, the SC Collegium recommended the transfer of Justice Ranjit V More from the Bombay High Court to the Meghalaya High Court and the transfer of Justice Ravi Vijaykumar Malimath from the Karnataka High Court to the Uttarakhand High Court. Justice More is also the third most senior judge in Bombay High Court after the second most senior judge's resignation and Justice Malimath is the second most senior judge in his high court. All three senior high court judges were transferred without an elevation.

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