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Justice S. Muralidhar

Justice S. Muralidhar
LIFE
  • He enrolled as an advocate in Chennai in September 1984 and in 1987 shifted to the Supreme Court of India and the Delhi High Court.
  • His notable judgments include the cases related to the victims of the Bhopal Gas Disaster and those displaced by the dams on the Narmada.
  • Later he was counsel for the National Human Rights Commission and the Election Commission of India and a part-time member of the Law Commission from December 2002. Delhi University awarded him Ph D in 2003.
 LEGAL GUARDIAN
  • In May 2006 he was elevated as a judge of the Delhi High Court. In 2009, he was part of the Delhi High Court bench which decriminalised homosexuality.
  • The Supreme Court Collegium first discussed a proposal to transfer him in December and then again in January.
  • On both occasions, the proposal was shot down after judges in the Collegium — led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi — advised against it.
JUSTICE
  •  Justice Muralidhar is among the few judges who have done away with the convention of judges being addressed as “My Lord” or “Your Lordship”.
  • In the judgment indicting Sajjan Kumar, Justice Muralidhar noted that there was “a familiar pattern of mass killings in Mumbai in 1993, in Gujarat in 2002, in Kandhamal, Odisha, in 2008, in Muzaffarnagar in U.P. in 2013” where minorities were being targeted and the attacks were being “spearheaded by the dominant political actors being facilitated by the law enforcement agencies”.
  • “The criminals responsible for the mass crimes have enjoyed political patronage and managed to evade prosecution and punishment,” he further wrote.
  • “Bringing such criminals to justice poses a serious challenge to our legal system… Neither ‘crimes against humanity’ nor ‘genocide’ is part of our domestic law of crime. This loophole needs to be addressed urgently.”
SPEECH
  • In May 1987, Mr G. Ramaswamy (GR), who was then the ASG [additional soliticor general] of India in the Supreme Court of India took me on as his junior and I moved from Chennai to Delhi.
  • The two-year stint with him was an incredible period of learning. His razor-sharp mind, ready wit and humour.
  • Shortly before the lunch recess on February 17, 2020, the chief justice of India’s letter dated February 14, 2020, communicating the transfer proposal was delivered to me in my chamber.
  • In the early hours of that day, our pet Labrador Sakhi, literally a companion to the entire family who gave unconditional warmth and joy for over 11 years, breathed her laSTSakhi remained till the last a strong sagely and pure presence.
SPEECH
  • I can confidently claim to be very close to many of the judges here on the dais. There are judges in the audience and elsewhere in Delhi and India who have helped me in various ways in traversing the difficult path of judgeship.
  • The back up support is by over 1,200 employees of this court. If I have been able to function effectively as a judge of this court, it is because of these people.
  • I have to thank the Delhi High Court Bar for accepting me, an advocate on record in the Supreme Court, as one of their very own. I find it hard to describe the unstinting affection I have received from you, old and young, senior and non-senior, over these 14 years.
 SPEECH
  • I can confidently claim to be very close to many of the judges here on the dais. There are judges in the audience and elsewhere in Delhi and India who have helped me in various ways in traversing the difficult path of judgeship.
  • The back up support is by over 1,200 employees of this court. If I have been able to function effectively as a judge of this court, it is because of these people.
  • I have to thank the Delhi High Court Bar for accepting me, an advocate on record in the Supreme Court, as one of their very own. I find it hard to describe the unstinting affection I have received from you, old and young, senior and non-senior, over these 14 years.
SPEECH
  • The Bench too reflects in some degree this diversity of cultures, languages, food habits and the bonhomie and fraternity that binds all of us.
  • The keyword here is fraternity. As Babasaheb Ambedkar put it, without fraternity, “equality and liberty would be no deeper than coats of paint.”
  • Over the years, I have realised that it is not enough for lawyers and judges to speak about constitutional values. It is essential to imbibe them. The constitutional values of equality, non-discrimination, dignity, prohibition of untouchability, inclusivity, and plurality have to be practiced continuously at both a personal and professional level.
SPEECH
  • Some random thoughts: The act of judging takes place in a space that is both mediative and meditative. The former is in acknowledgement of the primary function of judging: dispute resolution.
  • The latter, i.e., the meditative space in constitutional court adjudication has, at least for me, two guiding principles. The Gandhian talisman of the weakest person and Ambedkar’s adoption of Grote’s constitutional morality.
  • In this vision, Courts are not merely places where law is practised and produced. They are also spaces where the constitutional values are tested. • don’t ‘Hon’ble’
SPEECH
  • There is a distinction between neutrality and impartiality. They are not antithetical. Impartiality is noncompromisable for a judge. It is an essential attribute.
  • On neutrality, the Constitution, in my view, requires the judge at all levels to be able to discern the weak from the strong litigant in terms of their capacities to access justice and lean on the side of the vulnerable in order to attempt to achieve equality of arms. .
  • Judging is, without question, not an easy task. It involves a daily onslaught of negative emotions brought to the court by anxious, and often frustrated, litigants seeking justice.