Chief Justice of India U.U. Lalit on Thursday, quoting Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, said that in the last 13 days, since he took over as the 49th CJI, the Apex Court managed to dispose of 5,200 cases, while 1135 fresh cases were listed during the period.
Participating in his felicitation function organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) in the premises of the Apex Court, the CJI said the remarkable feat could not have been made possible without the collective efforts of all Judges and lawyers of the Supreme Court.
The CJI further quoted a news item, which said that some Supreme Court judges were not happy with the system of listing of cases.
He said there were bound to be some teething problems with the arrangement, however, it was totally incorrect to say that judges were unhappy with the system, since all judges were on the same page.
As per the CJI, many matters had become infructuous and were bound to be disposed of. Besides, some cases were listed at the last moment, which were handled efficiently by “my brother judges,” who were discharging their duties “with a smile”. He added that this was a good beginning, which should be encouraged.
Remembering his journey as a lawyer, the CJI said that he came to the Apex Court way back in 1985.
However, before that, his ‘first brush’ with the Supreme Court was in 1979-81, when the Re: special courts act was being argued in the Apex Court. He said he was a student then and because it was the first case which he followed, he sat there all through before stalwarts such as Justice Y. V. Chandrachud, Justice Bhagwati and Justice Krishna Iyer.
Calling it a ‘great learning experience,’ the CJI said he had the great fortune of again appearing before then CJI Y.V. Chandrachud. He said though he was practising in Mumbai since 1983, he came to the Supreme Court during vacation to mention a matter. In those days, the mentioning had to be before the then chief justice, so Justice Chandrachud was the judge, revealed Justice Lalit. He said that his first appearance in the SC was again before Justice Y.V. Chandrachud and that was how it all began.
As per the CJI, he has been through everything that an advocate in the Apex Court could have gone through, except being a law officer.
He said he first came to the Supreme Court as a student, then as an outstation counsel, to a junior who was unattached to anyone and then joined the advocates on records’ office. The CJI said the journey continued as a senior’s office, a non-advocate on record, non-senior category, then an advocate on record, and finally designated as a Supreme Court Judge.
Calling Attorney General K.K. Venugopal as his ‘role model,’ Justice Lalit said he liked the way Venugopal placed the matters before court, in a calm manner, without any emotions. He said he was greatly inspired by Venugopal, who would place the matter and facts before the court with the same amount of ease and comfort, putting the court in a comfortable zone.
As per the CJI, it had been his dream to become a Supreme Court lawyer. Justice Lalit said it was a privilege to be a lawyer, adding that legal profession gave him everything. He also said that the court taught him everything, while the SCBA gave him everything on a platter.
SCBA Vice-President Pradeep Rai said he had seen the growth and elevation of the CJI from the Bar to the Bench, adding that all members of the bar could connect with him, since he was ‘one of us’. He said Justice Lalit was a thorough professional with ethics. The bar was extremely happy and proud that one of their members rose to the highest judicial office in the country, added Rai.
Attorney General K.K. Venugopal seconded Rai and said he very few people had the privilege of being directly elevated from the Bar to the Bench and Justice Lalit was one of them.
He said Justice Lalit maintained an unquestionable calm during the hearings, making them extremely pleasant and never raised his voice.
“He is committed to planting a seed of lasting change. I hope his tenure will have a lasting impact on the judiciary,” concluded the AG.
Speaking on the occasion, SCBA President Vikas Singh said that Justice Lalit was the first CJI, who was practicing as a lawyer in the Supreme Court, before his elevation to the Bench. Justice S.M. Sikri was serving as the Advocate General of Punjab, when he became the 13th CJI of the country in January, 1971, he added.
The SCBA chief made a list of demands before the CJI, who assured to make a committee to look into the same. The list included a new library, a separate library for females, a new bar room and a spacious lunch room.
He said a welfare stamp would go a long way in helping the lawyers in need, while also mentioning the poor infrastructure and parking problems.
Singh also demanded medical facilities for the Advocates. As per the SCBA chief, Justice Lalit was the only CJI, who ‘practiced with us’.
“The Bar has great expectations from you sir and we are hopeful of achieving a lot in a short tenure,” he concluded.