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Govt should have been little careful while issuing transfer to Muralidhar: Justice Balakrishnan

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New Delhi, Feb 29: Amid a row over the timing of the transfer of Justice S Muralidhar from Delhi High Court to Punjab and Haryana High Court, former Chief Justice of India Justice KG Balakrishnan said that the government should have been a "little careful" while issuing the "midnight" transfer order.

The transfer order was issued by the Union Law and Justice Ministry on February 26, the day a bench headed by Justice Muralidhar expressed "anguish" over Delhi Police's failure to register FIRs against alleged hate speeches by three BJP leaders.

Justice Balakrishnan

The government has said the transfer had nothing to do with any case as a recommendation to this effect was already made by the Supreme Court Collegium and the judge had also given his consent.

Speaking to a media organisation, Justice Balakrishnan said that it was a mere coincidence that the final transfer notification was issued on the day when he passed the order on the hate speeches because his shift to had been already contemplated by the Supreme Court collegium a week ago.

"I don't know on what date the transfer issue came up before the collegium," he added.

Justice Muralidhar, the judge who sentenced Sajjan Kumar to life in Sikh riots caseJustice Muralidhar, the judge who sentenced Sajjan Kumar to life in Sikh riots case

Justice Muralidhar's transfer has nothing to do with the observations he made while hearing the Delhi violence case, the former CJI said.

"When the situation in the country is so volatile and media and others are active the government should have been little careful while issuing such midnight transfer order as there are chances of people thinking otherwise. The people could interpret differently," Justice Balakrishnan said.

Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said Justice Muralidhar was transferred following the recommendation of the SC Collegium, asserting that a "well-settled process" was followed. CJAR said it knows that Justice Muralidhar's transfer was recommended by the SC Collegium on February 12 but the rushed manner in which the notification has been issued by the government cannot be ignored.

(With inputs from agencies)

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