Sunday, December 10, 2023

‘Judge’s life difficult. But there is confidence while dispensing justice,’ Justice Navin Sinha said at SCBA e-farewell

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At his farewell on Wednesday, Supreme Court judge Justice Navin Sinha said though the life of a judge has been difficult, there is a sense of confidence when dispensing justice.

Speaking at the e-farewell organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) on his superannuation, Justice Sinha said life is only but a series of challenges and we have to find our ways. “The bar and bench has done a lot. To a very large extent the matters are being heard at length through Video Conferencing,” he said referring to the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Justice Sinha emphasised upon the quality training of lawyers on the same benchmark as its for judges for which there are judicial academies. “In Chhattisgarh, we have started a training programme for young lawyers. I believe that young lawyers should be trained. They must be taught manner and demeanour of a lawyer. When the lawyer appears a judge can trust him. I leave a suggestion for the SCBA to train younger lawyers,” he added. 

Speaking about his experience as a lawyer, Justice Sinha said he started practice in the Supreme Court in the chambers of the late R.B. Datar. “Those days corridors in Supreme Court were not crowded. Working in this Court is tough, there were times despite the pressure I stay awake till late night as I read brief two three times, so that I follow the argument, at the end it was useful.” 

At the end of his speech, he thanked CJI N.V. Ramana, including those judges who have retired. He said, “I am thankful to the Bar.”

Chief Justice of India Ramana, in his farewell speech, said, “Bidding farewell is always a difficult task, particularly when it is of a valued colleague like Brother Justice Navin Sinha.”

Giving a description about Justice Sinha’s life and family, the CJI said, “Brother Sinha was born on 19 August 1956 in an extremely reputed family. Brother Sinha’s paternal grandfather was the first Advocate General of Bihar, Babu Baldev Sahay, while his maternal grandfather was the Padma Bhushan awardee, Dr Raghunath Saran, who was personal physician to India’s first President Dr Rajendra Prasad. Brother Sinha’s father was a reputed officer, who superannuated as the Additional Secretary, Ministry of Power while his mother was a social worker associated with the Indian Red Cross.”

The CJI said,

“An aspect I wish to highlight is that the process of decision-making goes beyond the knowledge and application of principle of law. It needs moral courage to render an opinion which might displease many. It is imperative for judges not to be swayed by these external pressures. Brother Sinha is a man of impeccable integrity, strong morals, and the conviction to always stand by his principles. He is fiercely independent and impartial.”

“Impartiality is not an easy quality to possess or apply to the cases before us. We often carry our individual baggage- our biases and prejudices which can unconsciously affect the decision-making process. Our social conditions, upbringing and life experiences often colour our opinions and notions. But, when we adorn the robe of a judge, we must make a conscious effort to cast aside our biases and prejudices. After all, equality, objectivity and even-handedness form crucial aspects of fairness. At the same time, we must not forget the social dimensions that is at the heart of every case before us. Brother Sinha balanced these issues admirably, and with apparent ease. Brother Sinha truly personified the virtues necessary for a Judge of the Apex Court,” he added. 

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“Today I am feeling sad that I am losing such a valued colleague and friend. I am reminded of a famous Sanskrit saying: 

काक: कृष्ण: पिक: कृष्ण:

वसन्तकाले सम्प्राप्ते

 काक: काक: पिक: पिक:।।

Loosely translated in to English the quote goes:

“A crow and a cuckoo may look alike. Only when testing times come, one reveals its true self. “I will always be thankful to Brother Sinha for his continued support, through good times and difficult times,” said the CJI. 

Supreme Court Bar Association Vice President and Senior Advocate Pradeep Rai praised Justice Navin Sinha for his utmost steadiness, humility, integrity, hard work, fairness and uprightness of his Lordship.

Born in an illustrious family of Bihar on 19th August 1956, his father, late Mr. Benoy Sinha, superannuated as Additional Secretary, Ministry of Power, Government of India, and Mrs. Indu Sinha, a social worker, was actively associated with the Indian Red Cross Society, Patna Chapter.

Rai said, “Apart from hearing cases, a judge is also saddled with many administrative duties. Justice Sinha’s emphasis on technology and digital revolution in dispute resolution has been a boost for efficiency. In December 2020, while delivering a special address in an event organised by NITI Ayog and Patna High Court for advancing access to justice through Online Dispute Resolution, in the context of the post-pandemic world, Justice Sinha aptly stated that “It is essential to ensure all stakeholders are trained and prepared for this new normal. We will be successful in ensuring justice delivery for all by taking a collaborative route as the way forward.”

Justice Sinha is also credited with championing computerisation of the Patna, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan High Courts. During his tenure, Chhattisgarh High Court became the second in the country to introduce payment of court fee electronically. Subsequently the e-Court Fees centre at Jaipur was also inaugurated by him making Rajasthan High Court the fourth in the country to provide e-stamp facility.”

Giving a brief account of Lordships completed tasks, Rai said, “Sir, your awe inspiring growth, both as a lawyer and as a Judge will be the best evidence to many that greatness is achievable if one has the perseverance and determination.”

“Justice Sinha’s sharp judicial mind has been of avail to many who have had their rights vindicated by this Hon’ble institution. His professional and judicial qualities are without a doubt, prime. His patience is remarkable. He is soft spoken, firm, and dedicated towards his duties.

A Sanskrit shlok can very well explain the importance of duties in the life of Justice Sinha-

कर्तव्यमेव  कर्तव्यं प्राणैः कण्ठगतैरपि  |

अकर्तव्यं न कर्तव्यं प्राणैः कण्ठगतैरपि ||

Which means

अयोग्य काम कतई न करें, चाहे प्राण कण्ठ तक आ जाए ।

योग्य काम को अवश्य करें, चाहे प्राण कण्ठ तक आ जाए ।।

Sir, your amicable personality will be sorely missed. However, I am very sure that even after retirement, sir would always be eager to lend his helping hand. Sir you may have demitted the office but this Bar will always be of assistance to you. We seek your valuable guidance in the years to come,” said Pradeep Rai. 

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“I am not going to describe much about lordships qualities as we all know-

यदि सन्ति गुणा: पुंसां विकसन्त्येव ते स्वयम्|

न हि कस्तूरिकामोद: शपथेन विभाव्यते||

If a person has good qualities, they spread by themselves. As aroma of musk does not need an oath.

The work of judges is exhausting. The Hon’ble Judges work tirelessly and I wholeheartedly agree with the Hon’ble Chief Justice when very recently pointed out that the Judges do not have an easy life, and the false narrative about the easy life led by judges is difficult to swallow. Now, Justice Sinha would be beginning another very important chapter of his life where I’m sure the legal acumen acquired over the years would be put to equally important use. I hope that now as he sheds this heavy burden that he has gracefully executed all these years, he will have well deserved relaxation.

We wish him all the very best for the future endeavours. We believe that he shall continue to receive the same recognition and respect in his prospective assignments,” he added. 

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