New Chief Justice of Odisha High Court: S Muralidhar

Context

The Supreme Court Collegium has recommended elevation of Justice S Muralidhar as the Chief Justice of Odisha High Court. The collegium also recommended transfer of Odisha High Court Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq to Madhya Pradesh High Court.

About Justice S Muralidhar

  • Currently, Justice S Muralidhar is a judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. He assumed charge of Punjab and Haryana High Court in February this year.
  • He became a judge of the Delhi High Court in 2006. He was part of the High Court bench that first legalised homosexuality in the 2009 Naz Foundation case. Justice Muralidhar led division bench also convicted Sajjan Kumar in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
  • During his tenure as a judge at the Delhi High Court, Justice Muralidhar also got rid of the convention of judges being addressed as “Lordships”.
  • Justice Muralidhar began his law practice in Chennai in 1984. Three years later, in 1987, he shifted to the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court.
  • He was appointed amicus curiae by the apex court in several PIL cases. He was also a part time member of the Law Commission of India.

Appointment of Judges of High Courts in India

  • The judges of a high court are appointed by the President.
  • The chief justice is appointed by the President after consultation with the chief justice of India and the governor of the state concerned.
  • For appointment of other judges, the chief justice of the concerned high court is also consulted.
  • In case of a common high court for two or more states, the governors of all the states concerned are consulted by the president.

Transfer of Judges of High Courts

  • The President can transfer a judge from one high court to another after consulting the Chief Justice of India. On transfer, he is entitled to receive in addition to his salary such compensatory allowance as may be determined by Parliament.
  • In 1977, the Supreme Court ruled that the transfer of high court judges could be resorted to only as an exceptional measure and only in public interest and not by way of punishment.
  • Again in 1994, the Supreme Court held that judicial review is necessary to check arbitrariness in transfer of judges. But, only the judge who is transferred can challenge it.

Cases Regarding Appointment and Transfer of Judges of High Courts

  • In the Second Judges case (1993), the Supreme Court ruled that no appointment of a judge of the high court can be made, unless it is in conformity with the opinion of the chief justice of India.
  • In the Third judges case (1998), the Supreme Court opined that in case of the appointment of high court judges, the chief justice of India should consult a collegium of two senior-most judges of the Supreme Court. Thus, the sole opinion of the chief justice of India alone does not constitute the ‘consultation’ process.
  • In the Third Judges case (1998), the Supreme Court opined that in case of the transfer of high court judges, the Chief Justice of India should consult, in addition to the collegium of four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court, the chief justice of the two high courts (one from which the judge is being transferred and the other receiving him). Thus, the sole opinion of the chief justice of India does not constitute the ‘consultation’ process.

Sources

  1. Orissa Post
  2. Indian Polity by Laxmikanth

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