The Supreme Court collegium has recommended that the Manipur High Court’s Acting Chief Justice MV Muralidharan be transferred to the Calcutta High Court.

The collegium proposed the transfer “for better administration of justice” on October 9. On Tuesday, Justice Muralidharan requested that he either be transferred to his parent High Court – the Madras High Court – or be allowed to continue in the Manipur High Court.

However, the collegium on Wednesday said it did not find any merit in his request and reiterated its recommendation to transfer him to the Calcutta High Court.

On April 19, Justice Muralidharan had asked the Manipur government to consider petitions of the state’s majority Meitei community to be included in the Scheduled Tribe category and decide on them “expeditiously”.

The order revived old anxieties between the Meitei community and the hill tribes in the northeastern state. On May 3, large-scale violence broke out after thousands of people participated in a protest march to oppose the Meitei community’s demand. Over 200 people have been killed in the state since the ethnic conflict started.

The members of the Meitei community, who account for 60% of the state’s population, are largely concentrated in the Imphal Valley. The community claims that it is suffering due to large-scale illegal immigration from Myanmar and Bangladesh. The Meiteis are not allowed to settle in the state’s hilly areas as per laws.

On the other hand, some tribal communities fear that Meiteis will take over their land if they are given Scheduled Tribe status.

On May 9, the Supreme Court had orally remarked that the Manipur High Court does not have the power to direct the state government to consider designating a community as a Scheduled Tribe. A bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud observed that there were several orders by the Supreme Court stating this.

Centre to clear new Manipur chief justice’s appointment soon

On Monday, Attorney General R Venkataramani told the Supreme Court that it will soon clear the appointment of the Delhi High Court’s Justice Siddharth Mridul as the chief justice of the Manipur High Court, Bar and Bench reported.

The Supreme Court collegium had recommended Justice Mridul’s appointment over three months ago. The Manipur High Court has not had a permanent chief justice since February.

On Monday, a bench of Justices SK Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia said there should be no further delay in the appointment.

As far as the appointment of chief justice of a High Court is concerned and that too for a sensitive state, it is said that files are cleared and notification to be issued shortly,” Justice Kaul said, according to Bar and Bench. “I am being polite. This needs to be done before next date.”