Former Orissa High Court Chief Justice S Muralidhar on Saturday said he does not know why an order passed by him in the 2020 Delhi riots case had “upset” the Central government, Live Law reported.

On February 26, 2020, a bench of the Delhi High Court led by Muralidhar had rebuked the Delhi Police in open court for the manner in which it was investigating the communal rioting that the city experienced earlier that month.

Clashes had broken out between supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act and those opposing the law, killing at least 53 persons and injuring hundreds. Most of those killed in the violence were Muslims.

Muralidhar had asked the police to consider filing first information reports against Bharatiya Janata Party leaders for hate speech within 24 hours.

Hours later, the Modi government ordered his transfer to the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The new bench of the High Court that took over the case adjourned the matter by four weeks, letting off the hook both the Delhi Police and BJP leaders under scrutiny for hate speech. No first information reports were eventually filed against any BJP leader.

At a conclave organised by news website The South First in Bengaluru on Saturday, an audience member asked Muralidhar about the perception that his elevation to the Supreme Court was overlooked despite him being one of the senior-most High Court judges in the country because of his verdict in the riots case.

“I don’t know what is it that upset...Any other judge should have done the same thing,” the retired judge responded. “Every other colleague of mine in the Delhi High Court would have reacted the same way. I don’t think anybody else would have acted differently. So, what is that upset the government, I am as clueless as you are, if at all they were upset. I only have this to say. It does not matter, because many did people feel that it was the right thing to do.”

Muralidhar had also conducted an emergency midnight hearing at his residence on February 26, 2020, to shift 22 severely injured riot victims to hospitals that had the facilities to treat them.