Is Justice S Muralidhar the Indian Lincoln Lawyer?

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In the early 1990s, the halls of NLSIU buzzed with the brilliance of Dr Justice S Muralidhar. His captivating lectures on the “Auto Shankar” case left an indelible mark on my perception of law and justice.

Youthful Arrogance and Awakening

NLSIU’s “Harvard of the East” reputation led to youthful arrogance, temporarily blinding me to Justice Muralidhar’s brilliance, until fate introduced me to his remarkable legal mind. In 2006, Murali’s shift from lawyer to judge initiated a subtle yet impactful subversion, evident in his refusal of titles like “Milord,” challenging colonial remnants within India’s legal framework.

Exemplifying Propriety and Diligence

Justice Muralidhar swiftly became synonymous with propriety and diligence in the Delhi High Court. His interactions with lawyers were marked by firmness and politeness, leaving an enduring impact on those who stood before him.

A Touch of Humanity Amidst Legal Rigors

Justice Muralidhar and wife Usha Ramanathan’s care for Professor Lotika Sarkar underscores their exceptional compassion, while their resolute commitment to principles, seen in Usha’s privacy rights campaign and Muralidhar’s unwavering stance, reflects a dedication surpassing legal confines.

Midnight Heroism: Quelling Violence with a Hearing

Justice S Muralidhar’s exceptional courage and dedication were evident during the North-East Delhi Riots’ midnight hearing, where his swift intervention and dissemination of the court’s order played a crucial role in quelling violence and saving lives. However, this courage came at a cost, as expedited transfers and clashes between the Collegium and the executive unveiled the vulnerability of judicial independence in India.

As he departs from the Orissa High Court, Justice Muralidhar’s potential future as a senior counsel and arbitrator is apparent, but his legacy as a resolute and committed jurist remains firmly entrenched in the annals of Indian legal history.

The Bold Judge Unbound

Justice Muralidhar’s unwavering commitment, exceptional courage, and dedication to justice earned him the title he truly deserves – “The boldest judge the Supreme Court never had.” His journey continues to inspire generations of legal minds.