The collegium resolution noted that Justice Dr Muralidhar would be retiring in less than four months’ time on August 7, and that the Madras High Court has not had a permanent Chief Justice for over six months.
THE Supreme Court Collegium has recalled its six-month-old recommendation to the Union government to appoint Orissa High Court Chief Justice Dr S. Muralidhar as Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, conceding to the government’s refusal to give effect to the recommendation.
The Collegium, comprising Chief Justice of India Dr D.Y. Chandrachud and Justices S.K. Kaul, K.M. Joseph, M.R. Shah and Ajay Rastogi, noted in a resolution published yesterday that the recommendation had remained pending with the Union government without any response since September 28 last year.
The collegium has now decided to recommend the appointment of the Acting Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court, Justice S.V. Gangapurwala, as the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court.
The Collegium resolution noted that Justice Dr Muralidhar would be retiring in less than four months’ time on August 7, and that the Madras High Court has not had a permanent Chief Justice for over six months. Therefore, in order to facilitate the appointment of a permanent Chief Justice at the high court, it decided to recall its recommendation regarding Justice Dr Muralidhar, and recommend appointing Justice Gangapurwala instead.
The Collegium’s decision to recall its recommendation stands in stark contrast with the warning of “unpalatable consequences” given by a Supreme Court Bench headed by Justice Kaul to the government on February 3 if the collegium’s recommendations to transfer high court judges were not given effect in the next ten days. Instead, it is the collegium that has had to give up on its recommendation.
When Justice Dr Muralidhar was serving at the Delhi High Court, a Bench presided over by him had on February 26, 2020 pulled up the Delhi Police for its inaction in lodging first information reports (FIRs) against Bharatiya Janata Party politicians Kapil Mishra, and Parliamentarians Anurag Thakur (currently the Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting) and Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma for their alleged inflammatory speeches leading up to the Delhi riots of February 2020.
Justice Dr Muralidhar had ordered that the Delhi Police commissioner view all video clips of the three making alleged hate speeches, and take a conscious decision regarding the registration of FIRs.
On the intervening night of February 26, 2022, Justice Dr Muralidhar was transferred to the Punjab and Haryana High Court by the Union government.
No FIRs were subsequently filed by the Delhi police against Mishra, Thakur and Verma for their alleged hate speeches.