“Shah Rukh Khan could have been a part of Ayodhya dispute,” said Supreme Court Bar Association president Vikas Singh at a farewell organised for Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde in an oblique hint that the former Chief Justice of Inidia had such a mediation plan in mind to solve the dispute amicably.
With Friday being the last day in office of Justice Bobde, the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) and the bench bid farewell to him over a zoom call. Among those present were the new Chief Justice of India Justice N.V. Ramana, Justice R.F. Nariman, Justice L. Nageshwar Rao, Justice Indira Banerjee, Justice Vineet Saran, Justice Hemant Gupta, Justice R. Subhash Reddy, Justice Ajay Rastogi, Justice B.R. Gavai, Justice Surya Kant, Justice Aniruddha Bose, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and SCBA Vice President Senior Advocate Pradeep Kumar Rai, SCBA Secretary Ardhendumauli Kumar Prasad( and other members of the bar and bench.
SCBA Secretary Prasad felicitated the retiring CJI on behalf of the SCBA and kicked off the event by welcoming all members of the bar and introducing Senior Advocate Pradeep Kumar Rai to commence the function.
Rai spoke about the life of the Chief Justice Bobde and described his immense love for wildlife and nature. “He is an avid wildlife photographer and likes nature and forests. His love for nature is clearly evident from the way he showed interest in the cases related to forest department and he did all the matters Pro Bono while he was practicing in Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court,” he said.
Rai also quoted a Sanskrit sloka Justice Bobde always believed in,
जीवेषु करुणा चापि मैत्री तेषु विधीयताम् ।
Venugopal, the Attorney General, in his farewell address, stated, “The world was suffering from Covid-19. Every country in the world was shaken. The Supreme Court decided to take a call and the Bar thought that the Court would close down. But CJI Bobde rose to the occasion and started virtual hearing, with almost 50,000 cases disposed of. It was a great achievement”
SCBA president Singh recalled he once saw Justice Bobde playing table tennis and he wasn’t aware that he used to play for Nagpur University. Singh said he was amused to see how good the former CJI was.
On a humorous note, Singh said, “Justice Bobde’s commitment to mediation was such that, knowing that I know the family of Shah Rukh Khan, he asked me whether Shah Rukh Khan would be interested in participating in the mediation process. So I spoke to Shah Rukh Khan and he was more than willing. He said that the only way Hindus and Muslims can live peacefully together in the country is through such religious harmony. In fact, it was his suggestion that the foundation for the Hindu temple may be laid down by some prominent Muslim individuals and the foundation of the mosque be laid down by prominent Hindu persons.”
Chief Justice N.V. Ramana then spoke of Justice Bobde and his notable judgments; he then congratulated the SCBA office-bearers and thanked them for organising the event for “Brother Bobde”.
On the looming Covid situation, Justice Ramana said, “We are going through trying times. Virus does not differentiate. Some strong measures may be needed in these difficult times. We have to wear a mask, wash hands and do not step out unless there is urgency. We can defeat the pandemic with discipline”
Justice Bobde bid farewell to the bar and bench by saying a few things relevant to the present conditions.
It was a moment of nostalgia for him when he remembered the time he sworn in as the Chief Justice of India and faced some complexities, “When I took over as the CJI I did not understand the complexity of the task. It takes some time to understand the complexities and there is no way around them. Litigation here is of dazzling variety arguments, probably the best since this is the last court. Bar is very capable,” he said.
He uttered a few words for the young members of the bar, “Don’t lose hope, carry on, things will change.” and warned the current bar to address the changing times (in reference to virtual hearings). “I would like issue a warning for the adoption of artificial intelligence which I am sure will broke in the future. We decided to adopt AI in future because I think it’s futile to ignore it. If you don’t become familiar with the artificial intelligence we would be in great disadvantage, we need to accept the upcoming times”
He addressed the bar and expressed his ideology for the Bar and Bench to work harmoniously.
“I do not wish to criticize anybody but attitude and mutual respect that is necessary for excellent functioning of judicial system is sometimes wanting in the narrative. I am not saying become a society which compliments each other. But this communication and respect will lead to save the life, liberty of the citizens, there is no need for a mutual admiration society but nonetheless we must work harmoniously.”