New Delhi: It was a farewell “never seen before”, commented some legal luminaries, as the Delhi High Court Bar Association on Thursday bid adieu to Justice S Muralidhar, who was served a ‘midnight’ notification on February 26, on his transfer to the Punjab and Haryana HC. The sudden notification came a day after the judge had reprimanded the Delhi Police and expressed his ‘anguish’ over its failure to register FIRs against alleged hate speeches by BJP leaders.
The communal violence that followed in Northeast Delhi after the hate speeches have cost 49 lives so far and widespread destruction of property, livelihoods and displacement, mainly of the minority community.
Justice Muralidhar, 58, had even played videos of the hate speeches by BJP minister Anurag Thakur, BJP leader Kapil Mishra, Parvesh Verma and Abhay Verma.
On Thursday, the hall in the court premises was jampacked for the farewell ceremony, with lawyers thronging all floors.
“HC farewell today to Justice Murlidhar who was transferred forthwith at 11 PM on the day he read the Riot Act to the Delhi police. HC has never seen such a fond farewell to any judge. He showed what a judge true to his salt& oath can do to uphold the Constitution & protect rights,” tweeted Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan.
Addressing the huge gathering, Chief Justice D N Patel said: "We are losing a most eminent judge who can discuss on any topic of law and decide any type of matter", according to Bar & Bench.
When it was his turn to speak, Justice Muralidhar said: “When justice has to triumph, it will triumph… Be with the truth.” He then went on to relate how he entered the field of law by sheer coincidence.
He said law was not his first choice as a career. "I was not meant to do law. I used to play cricket with the son of a lawyer and I used to leave my cricket bag in his chambers," he said, adding that he had signed up for MSc. He began law practice in Chennai in September 1984, after which he shifted to Delhi to practice at the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court in 1987.
In his farewell speech, the judge also had a word of appreciation for junior lawyers who he said come prepared well to argue cases.
"Youngsters may have seen me irritated when they come to my court without any paper and just an appearance slip - I want juniors to come prepared and seize opportunities to argue,” he said.
While the farewell ceremony was underway, social media was flooded with the pictures of the event, with netizens singing accolades of the judge, saying "This is the way real heroes are treated."