New Delhi: Delhi High Court Judge S Muralidhar, who on Wednesday slammed the Delhi Police for failing to register FIRs against four BJP leaders for hate speeches, has been transferred to the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
The transfer order was issued hours after Muralidhar pulled up the police.
The Supreme Court Collegium had recommended Muralidhar's transfer on February 12, but what raised eyebrows was the issuance of the order after he asked Delhi Police why no FIR was filed against BJP leaders, including junior Finance Minister Anurag Thakur.
The transfer has drawn criticism from opposition parties.
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi said Muralidhar's transfer was 'sad and shameful' and alleged the Centre of 'muzzling justice system.'
Rahul Gandhi reacted sarcastically with a tweet: "Remembering the brave Judge Loya, who was not transferred."
Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday said Muralidhar was transferred following the recommendation of the Supreme Court collegium, asserting that a "well-settled process" was followed.
"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," Prasad wrote on Twitter.
He said while transferring a judge, his or her consent is taken. "The well-settled process have been followed," Prasad added.
What did Muralidhar say?
A bench of justices S Muralidhar, Talwant Singh and Anup J Bhambhani of the Delhi High Court on Wednesday expressed "anguish" over the Delhi Police's failure to register FIRs against four BJP leaders over their alleged hate speeches in connection with the CAA-related violence and asked the police commissioner to take a "conscious decision" on it by February 27.
"... We should never allow another 1984... especially under the watch of the court and under your (Delhi Police) watch... We have to be very, very alert," the bench said.
The bench said when the police can register 11 FIRs in connection with incidents of violence, including arson, looting, stone pelting, why did it not show alacrity when it came to the alleged hate speeches by the four BJP leaders -- Anurag Thakur, Parvesh Verma, Kapil Mishra and Abhay Varma.
"Why are you not showing alacrity when it comes to registration of FIR in these cases? We want peace to prevail. We do not want the city to witness another 1984 riots. This city has seen enough violence and anguish. Let it not repeat 1984," the bench said.
The court noted in its order that Special Commissioner Praveer Ranjan has assured he will sit with the police commissioner on Wednesday itself and watch all video clips to take a conscious decision on the issue of lodging of FIRs and convey it to the court on Thursday.
Recently, the Supreme Court Collegium had recommended the transfer of Justice Muralidhar to the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
A notification on Muralidhar's transfer issued by the Ministry of Law and Justice on Wednesday 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.
Meanwhile, the Delhi High Court Bar Association (DHCBA) had on February 20 announced a strike against Muralidhar's transfer.
In a resolution, the DHCBA had expressed its "shock, dismay and outrage" at the decision to recommend the transfer of "one of the finest judges to have adorned the bench."
The resolution stated, "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. Such transfers also impede free and fair delivery of justice by the honourable bench."
At least 34 people were killed and around 200 injured in the communal violence in parts of northeast Delhi over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).
(With inputs from PTI and IANS)