Days after the Supreme Court made the recommendation, Justice S Muralidhar was transferred to the Punjab and Haryana High Court. 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 stated 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.
‘Transfer of Justice Muralidhar is Unacceptable’ : Sorabjee
Ex-Attorney General of India Soli Sorabjee in an interview with India Today stated that the timing of the transfer of Justice Muralidhar raises doubts in the mind of the people and intention of the government. Soli Sorabjee further mentioned that the manner in which the transfer was done, is objectionable and completely unacceptable.
He also said that “What was the hurry?” and why was it done amid important hearings?
After Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's apparent jibe over the transfer of Delhi High Court judge Justice S Muralidhar on Thursday, 27 February, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad hit back, saying that "by politicising a routine transfer, Congress has yet again displayed its scant regard for the judiciary."
“Transfer of Hon’ble Justice Muralidhar was done pursuant to the recommendation dated 12.02.2020 of the Supreme Court collegium headed by Chief Justice of India. While transferring the judge consent of the judge is taken. The well settled process have been followed,” Prasad said in a tweet.
By politicising a routine transfer, Congress has yet again displayed its scant regard for the judiciary. People of India have rejected Congress Party and hence it is hell bent on destroying the very institutions India cherishes by constantly attacking them.— Ravi Shankar Prasad (@rsprasad) February 27, 2020
Earlier, Rahul Gandhi took to Twitter, saying, "Remembering the brave Judge Loya, who wasn’t transferred."
Remembering the brave Judge Loya, who wasn’t transferred.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) February 27, 2020
In response to Gandhi's Loya reference, the Law Minister said "the Loya judgment has been well settled by the Supreme Court".
"Does Rahul Gandhi consider himself above even the Supreme Court?" he asked, adding that the government respects the independence of the judiciary. He also went on to say that the Congress "has no right to lecture about objectionable speeches."
We respect independence of judiciary. 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.— Ravi Shankar Prasad (@rsprasad) February 27, 2020
The Party, which is the private property of one family, has no right to lecture about objectionable speeches. The family & it’s cronies have routinely used the harshest words against the Courts, the Army, the CAG, the PM and the people of India.— Ravi Shankar Prasad (@rsprasad) February 27, 2020
Priyanka Gandhi, Surjewala Slam Govt Too
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also attacked the government over the transfer of the judge, saying the Centre's attempts to "muzzle justice" and break people's faith in an upright judiciary are deplorable.
The midnight transfer of Justice Muralidhar isn’t shocking given the current dispensation, but it is certianly sad & shameful.— Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (@priyankagandhi) February 27, 2020
Millions of Indians have faith in a resilient & upright judiciary, the government’s attempts to muzzle justice & break their faith are deplorable. pic.twitter.com/KKt4IeAMyv
Meanwhile, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala alleged that the judge was transferred by the government to save BJP leaders in the Delhi violence case.
"It seems those doing justice in the country will now not be spared... (It's) classic 'hit-and-run' injustice by the BJP government, its politics of revenge has been exposed," Surjewala said.
The Reference to Judge BH Loya
The reference in Rahul Gandhi’s tweet was to special CBI judge BH Loya, who was hearing the high-profile Sohrabuddin Shaikh fake encounter case and died of cardiac arrest in Nagpur on 1 December, when he was visiting the city to attend the wedding of a colleague's daughter.
There were demands from some quarters that the death should be probed as the judge was allegedly under a lot of pressure. But the Supreme Court rejected multiple pleas for independent probe, holding that Loya died of natural causes.
CPI(M) Calls it 'Selective Response'
In a statement, the CPI(M) said that the transfer recommended by the Supreme Court collegium has been protested against by the Delhi High Court Bar Association for well-argued judicial-administrative considerations.
"Post-haste implementation appears to be a selective response for what unfolded in the Delhi High Court yesterday. The fact remains that the Bench headed by Justice Muralidhar called the bluff of the Delhi police in trying to shield the hate speeches of top BJP leaders in Delhi in the course of the Delhi assembly election and after,” read the statement.
"Politburo of the CPI(M) urges the Government that in these times of acute confidence deficit, the transfer order must be kept in abeyance to reinforce the confidence of the people in the judicial system of the country," it added.
(With inputs from PTI.)
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