Justice S Muralidhar who refused to be called ‘Your Lordship’ — was also a part of the bench that repealed Section 377

Justice S Muralidhar who refused to be called ‘Your Lordship’ — was also a part of the bench that repealed Section 377
Justice S MuralidharAbhijeet Dipke/Twitter

  • Yesterday, the central government issued orders for the transfer Justice S Muralidhar from the Delhi High Court to the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
  • The timing of the transfer has sparked controversy, which came in mere hours of Muralidhar addressing the issue of FIRs being filed against right-wing leaders for delivering hate speeches.
  • He has been practising the law for 36 years, either as a lawyer or a judge, in addition to having a doctorate and publishing a book.
Today is the last working day for Justice S Muralidhar as a judge at the Delhi High Court. Last night, the central government sent a notification for his transfer to the Punjab and Haryana High Court despite protests from the Delhi High Court Bar Association.

“Your lordship has been an inspiration to the entire young bar. We hope we can live up to your example,” a young lawyer told Justice Muralidhar, according to LiveLaw.

Even though the transfer has been recommended by the Supreme Court on February 12, the timing of the government’s orders has sparked controversy. It came in mere hours after Muralidhar went up against Solicitor General Tushar Mehta in a plea filed by social activist Harsh Mander.

“We can’t let another 1984 scenario happen in this city, not under the watch of this court,” he said. Muralidhar also directed the Delhi police to decide on the matter of filing FIRs with respect to hate speeches made by right-wing politicians.


Muralidhar also came to the rescue of victims of the Delhi violence, the night before. During a midnight hearing, he issued directions to the Delhi Police to ensure that all injured people are granted safe passage to medical institutions and hospitals.

Over three decades of courtroom drama
Muralidhar has been practising law for over three decades. Starting off in September 1984 in Chennai, in three years he started to practice at the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court.

As an advocate, he worked on some notable cases — like addressing victims of the Bhopal Gas tragedy and arguing on behalf of the people displaced by the Narmada Dam project.

In time he also served as counsel for the National Human Right Commission and the Election Commission of India. He was also awarded his Ph D by Delhi University in 2003.

It was only 2006 that he was appointed as a judge at the Delhi court. Set to change things from the get-go, he refused to be addressed at ‘Your Lordship’ by lawyers. Furthermore, he was a part of the bench that ruled in favour of disclosing how many Supreme Court judges had declared their assets in response to an RTI.

Over the years, he delivered a number of impactful judgements. In 2009, he was a part of the bench which initially repealed section 377, legalising homosexuality. He also convicted politician Sajjan Kumar for his involvement in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and revoked the transit demand of activist Gautam Navlakha in the Bhima Koregaon case.

He’s also an author. He wrote the book Law, Poverty and Legal Aid: Access to Criminal Justice which was published in August 2004.

See also:
India’s second-highest ranking law officer sees no 'urgency' in a case on Delhi violence