Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana on Friday said the ultimate purpose of justice delivery system was to provide justice to the common man.
Speaking during his farewell function organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) at the Supreme Court premises, the 48th CJI said, “I have embraced all the challenges that came my way and strengthened myself and understood that every failure carried
with it a seed of equivalent advantage.
“I never claimed myself to be a great judge, but always believed that the ultimate purpose of justice delivery system is to provide justice to the common man.
“In the last 75 years, our jurisprudence has evolved considerably. Our judiciary is not defined by a single order or decision. Yes, at times, it fell short of peoples’ expectations. But most of the times, it has championed the cause of the people. It was widely predicted that with A.K. Gopalan, the due process of law was history. But, this Court, in the case of Maneka Gandhi, restored what was taken away earlier.
“Similarly, ADM Jabalpur was seen as a death knell on personal liberty. Subsequently, the error stood rectified by a nine-Judge Bench in K.S. Puttaswamy. This institution never hesitated to remedy itself. Your hope upon the institution cannot be so weak that it is shattered with one perceived unfair judgment.
“When it comes to an individual judge, the expectations are very high. In the game of cricket, the player is expected to hit every ball for a six. But only a player knows as to how to deal with each ball, given the conditions of the pitch, the style of bowling and the placement of the fielders. The advocates are best placed to understand this predicament
of a Judge and dispel wrong notions about them.
“My life’s journey began in a remote village called Ponnavaram in the Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh, where electricity, roads and basic amenities were not available. I saw electricity for the first time at 12. I learnt the alphabets in English around the same time. We used to reach school walking on muddy roads, across the fields and crossing streams.
“With a lot of struggle, and hard work I have come up in life. For this, I thank my first gurus, that is, my parents and the teachers in various government schools. I am indebted to all my teachers and lecturers because the essence of education that they had given to me was helpful not only for the purpose of acquiring academic knowledge, but also
helped in providing necessary moral strength and courage to face any calamity in life.
This long journey is marked by many experiences, most of which are sour, rather than sweet. At the young age of 17, I could lead a trade union of around 10,000 workers. At the same time, I could also lead students, farmers and employees. Confronting problems, and resolving issues is not something new to me. This period enabled me to interact with persons of varying ideologies and broadened my horizons. They taught me as to how to live in isolation, in an environment where you cannot express or share your thoughts on any of the issues.
“I witnessed the resilience of human existence, the power of human struggles, dignity in poverty and most importantly, unshakable hope and faith. Through these ordinary everyday experiences, I developed the extraordinary passion of serving the people.
“Being a first-generation lawyer, I have faced many challenges in my life and realized that except hard work, there is no shortcut to success. The journey of struggle and bitter experiences in my career helped me to diversify my activities. I watched the important events of this country unfolding from close quarters.
“I always accepted rejection as God’s redirection and retained my honesty
and integrity. I want every advocate to remember that sometimes life scares you and beats you up, but there is a day when you realize that you are not just a survivor, you are a warrior. You are tougher than anything that is thrown your way.
“It has been the honour of my life to be elevated as a Judge. I accepted it with all humility. Once I became a Judge, I gave my heart and mind to it. From the date I joined bench till I reached the highest possible position in the judiciary, I was subjected to conspiratorial scrutinies. My family and I suffered in silence. But ultimately, the truth will always prevail.”
“When you ultimately judge me as a Judge, I would like to say that I may
be judged as a very ordinary Judge, but one who greatly relished and enjoyed the job, who meticulously followed the rules of the game and did not trespass into provinces forbidden.
“More importantly, as a person who recognized preliminarily the moral power of a Judge and heard the senior and junior alike. I always wanted my name to be etched on the hearts of people through my conduct and behavior, rather than case law and journals. I want to remain in those vibrant hearts, which will give me warmth and keep me going forever,” he added.
Speaking on the occasion, Vice-President of the Supreme Court Bar association, Senior Advocate Pradeep Rai said, “Justice NV Ramana is the son of the soil. He started out as a farmer, then became a journalist and ultimately, reached the highest position in Indian Judiciary. He has always helped people in need. During the Covid-19 pandemic, whenever the CJI came to know about a lawyer or his family struggling for bed, he would call up a hospital and get the bed allotted for the person.”
“The CJI has this wonderful ability of making friends easily. As the Chairman of NALSA, he agreed to the proposal of lawyers doing the pro bono service. He has always vouched for cooperation between the bar and the bench. He has tried to resolve each and every issue. He is the Sachin Tendulkar of Indian Judiciary, who plays very well.”
“The CJI’s remarks in the case related to Kirti Insurance Company regarding the contribution of homemakers in the economy has received praise from different quarters. The Chamber committee got full independence and authority under him,” added Rai.
Justice U.U. Lalit, who is going to take over charge from Justice Ramana, said the 250 High Court appointments he made during his time in office and his push for better judicial infrastructure were the landmarks of Justice Ramana’s tenure as 48th CJI.
Talking about the role he would now play in the shoes of CJI, Justice Lalit said that in his time, along with carrying the legacy, he will make listing of cases as simple as possible. He also promised to try for establishing a precise regime to govern mentioning of urgent matters.
In his words, Justice Lalit mentioned that:
(1) Listing of cases, I assure that we will make listing as simple as clear and as transparent as possible.
(2) Area of mentioning urgent matters…we will look into this and very shortly you can have a clear cut regime where any urgent matters can be freely mentioned before any respective courts.
(3) Next is constitution bench and three judge bench matters as I believe job of Supreme Court is to lay down law in clear cut terms so that people are aware of peculiar positions in law. He said we will strive to have one constitution bench functioning throughout the year.”
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said, “It is said that a judge delivers judgements throughout his judicial career and a bar delivers judgement on the day he retires. This is our verdict. Not a single chair is vacant, in fact, people are standing outside.”
“The first contribution of the CJI to the legal profession has been the speed with which the appointments were made. One third of the total judicial strength of the country, were filled up by the present collegium. The Mission mode in which Justice Ramana used to make those appointments, was amazing.”
“The second contribution is his zeal for infrastructural development of various courts throughout the country,” he added.
Senior Advocate Vikas Singh, President of the Supreme Court Bar Association, said “The CJI has done great work in promoting ADR in this country. He could set up IAMC at Telangana, which is considered as having world-class facility. his vision is to bring India on the same map, where it is considered to be preferred hub of arbitration. Had CJI Ramana joined active politics, he would have been the Prime Minister of India today.”
Read Justice Ramana’s full speech below:Farewell-Speech-SCBA-26082022