Don’t know why the Delhi riots order bothered the government, it was the right thing to do: Justice Muralidhar


Former Orissa High Court Chief Justice S Muralidhar said he did not know why his order in connection with the Delhi riots bothered the central government.

At a conference organized by online news portal ‘The South First’ in Bengaluru, an audience member asked Justice Muralidhar about the impression that he was elevated to the Supreme Court because of his verdict in the Delhi riots case. Had to do.

“During the Delhi riots case, you delivered the judgment late at night. And there are arguments that you disturbed the government and you did not reach the Supreme Court. What are your thoughts on that?” the person asked.

Justice Muralidhar replied:

“I don’t know if it’s disturbing… any other judge should have done the same. Every other colleague of mine in the Delhi High Court has reacted the same way. I don’t think anyone else has done the same. I am as clueless as you, if they were worried, I just have to say, it doesn’t matter, because many people thought it was right. To do, indeed, it was. Justice Muralidhar said.

Senior advocate Sanjay Hegde responded, “It is written somewhere that saving a life means saving humanity. I’m so proud of you for that.”

Amid the communal riots that gripped Delhi in February 2020, Justice Muralidhar had called a midnight hearing at his residence to issue urgent orders to evacuate a group of patients trapped in a hospital in a riot-hit area. be done The order was necessary as patients, who needed emergency medical treatment at a major specialist hospital, could not be shifted due to the riot situation. Later in the day (26 February 2020), Justice Muralidhar issued another order asking the Delhi Police to register an FIR within 24 hours against certain BJP leaders for making inflammatory remarks. Decide to enter. In a dramatic hearing, Justice Muralidhar expressed surprise when the Delhi Police claimed ignorance about the speeches, some of which had gone viral on social media. Justice Muralidhar directed the clips of the speech to be played in court for the police officer present and issued a strict order to take the decision to file an FIR despite strong opposition from the Delhi Police. The same night, the central government notified the Punjab and Haryana High Court of their transfer.

Supreme Court collegium failure of another independent judge by not standing up for Justice S Muralidhar

At the South First Conclave, Justice Muralidhar was discussing with senior advocate Sanjay Hegde on the topic “Who wins and who loses in the Judiciary-Executive face-off”.

Hegde opened the session by saying that Justice Muralidhar was among a distinguished group of judges like Justice Chagla, Justice PD Desai who could not enter the Supreme Court and said they were “victims of the collegium”. Against this backdrop, he asked Justice Muralidhar what criteria he would rely on to select judges.

Justice Muralidhar said that the Judiciary as an institution should be representative and the recent pronouncements of the collegium emphasize adequate representation on criteria such as gender, caste, religion, geography etc.

“What can safely be said is, within these criteria, choose the best,” They said. A brilliant lawyer does not necessarily make a good judge. He said that the ability to be reasonable and fair is the measure of choosing a good judge. More important is the ability to make decisions.

On the independence of the Judiciary

He said during the conversation that there is a view that if there is a strong executive, the judiciary will be weak and vice versa. He said a “sensational change” in the dynamics between the judiciary and the executive took place in 1971 when the Congress won absolute majority in Parliament.

He reminded that the debate about the independence of the judiciary should be held at all levels of the judiciary.

“When we talk about the independence of the judiciary, people tend to ignore that there are many courts in the hierarchy. How independent is the work of a magistrate or a district judge? We seem to be at a loss on that at all. Not paying attention and I think. We are making a grave mistake, there are about 14000 odd judges at this level and about 1000 judges of the High Court and 34 judges of the Supreme Court, that is the pyramid, the independence of the judiciary. But it would be a mistake to limit the debate only to the courts. The High Courts and the Supreme Court, of course, are constitutional courts, but when we talk about independence of the judiciary and administrative control of the judiciary, we have to talk about all levels. Fear and An atmosphere of terror, what does independence of the judiciary mean?” They said.

“So let’s talk about the executive control of the judiciary at all levels. The facilities for the judges are provided by the funds coming from the state government. A magistrate has to constantly deal with the police. The Superintendent of Police communicate with. They are totally dependent on the government to execute court warrants, judges are totally dependent on the government for funds released for administrative work. I wish someone would do that. When we Where we stand as the judiciary vis-à-vis the executive will be studied in greater depth when it comes to independence.

The collegium sometimes strategically holds back names that it feels will not go through the government.

As far as the independence of the judiciary at the Supreme Court level is concerned, he said that it is realised. deja vu With 1971 conditions.

“Since ’71, you get a déjà vu. You see all these issues that we’ve been talking about in the past with a strong executive. If they get the kind of nominees for the court. If so, they will have to walk the hard way.”

“What is that narrow path and does it lead to the right results?” Hegde asked at this point.

“By walking the narrow path I mean, understanding the feeling you get… it’s a collective exercise. I have to convince you that the choice is right. The first step is the collegium. I have to convince my senior colleagues. Then files go to Chief Minister, Central Govt. Names are not selected until background check is done. Sometimes, as a collegium, if we feel that the name will not work with the current system, and you still want the candidate to be available for the future, you can strategically keep the name back. will You won’t send it out to be rejected. You have to strategize, because you are looking at two arms of the state. You have to know when to do what. These are the moments when the public feels that the executive is supreme and the judiciary is incapable of getting its way.

In this context, Justice Muralidhar spoke about Justice YV Chandrachud’s 7.5-year tenure as the Chief Justice of India, during which he had to walk a tightrope. “He couldn’t get many good judges in, or, he couldn’t get them at the time he wanted them. And there was pressure and pull from many directions as to who should come first, who should come next. ” Justice Muralidhar said.

A mandatory cooling-off period is required.

Justice Muralidhar spoke about the need for a mandatory “cooling-off” period after retirement before appointing a judge to any tribunal or commission. He said that this was necessary to uphold the concept of judicial independence.

“It is very disturbing that files for (post-retirement appointments) are being prepared while judges are still in office. Having a cooling-off period is welcome.”

In response to another question, he said that artificial intelligence cannot replace judges. He opined that AI is ultimately a tool that can help the judicial process. But it cannot completely replace a human judge, because an emotional component is necessary for a fair judgment.

“In every case, a human element must be kept in mind. For example, in the case of a woman who threw her two children into the river and wanted to jump herself because of poverty, it An obvious case. But punishing this type of person is heartbreaking. So you have to exercise discretion in sentencing.” They said. He further said that if the same judge comes to him ten years later, the same judge may decide a case differently because perspective changes with life experiences.

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