Former Chief Justice of India Justice M.N. Venkatachaliah was awarded the SKOCH Lifetime Achievement Award at a glittering ceremony in Delhi on Saturday at the SKOCH India Law Award and LIT Fest Award organised by the SKOCH India Law Forum.
Though Justice Venkatachaliah was not present, he accepted the award through video. The eminent jurist requested that he be allowed to dedicate the award to the lawyers and the judges who had made notable contributions to the Supreme Court of India to make it a great institution.
Sharing his experience in the Apex Court as a young lawyer, Justice Venkatachaliah said, “I had the opportunity of witnessing over the past 8 decades, the great changes in society.”
He said he was deeply touched by the gesture of SKOCH chairman Sameer Kochhar for choosing him for this award. The veteran jurist joked, “Rescuing me for 30 years of anonymity.”
The SKOCH Foundation also conferred the SKOCH Star of India Award on the late Soli J Sorabjee for his contributions to the nation and the legal profession. Sorabjee’s widow Zena Sorabjee accepted the award on his behalf through video. “My family & I are extremely thankful to you for this award and we do appreciate that you have given this award to him as a special one,” she said.
“Justice Venkatachaliah and Justice Dipak Misra are also being awarded today and Soli must be smiling from where he. He admired both these judges and respected them,” she said.
Another awardee, former Chief Justice of India Justice Dipak Misra said he was delighted to be in the company of former Chief Justice Venkatachaliah. He said Justice Venkatachaliah was an innovative jurist with an immense passion for justice and liberty.
Senior Advocate Fali S. Nariman, who was awarded the SKOCH India Law Award for exemplary service to the law, paid his encomiums to Justice Venkatachaliah. “Referring to Justice M.N. Venkatachaliah in a few words is almost impossible but I will try,” Nariman said.
“After practising exclusively and continuously at this country’s highest court for nearly 70 years, I have come to regard court number 1 in the Supreme Court of India as the Justice Venkatachaliah Court,” he said.
Nariman said, “It was not only because he was a robust judge, but to me, he had that enduring quality that no judge of the supreme court has yet exhibited. That rare gift of sharing his phenomenal knowledge and learning with all his fellow beings.”
The SKOCH India Law Award and LIT Fest Award was organised by SKOCH India Law Forum, an independent platform for change-makers, that celebrates the contributions of legal luminaries who have made remarkable contributions to law, going beyond the call of duty.
The function also saw the premiere of the biographical film The Banyan Tree: Justice M.N. Venkatachaliah, based on the life of the eminent jurist.
The event also saw the SKOCH Literature Awards in which senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi were among the winners.