Outgoing Supreme Court judge Justice Ajay Rastogi, during his farewell function on Friday, deplored the practice of appreciating judges for making anti-government statements.
At the farewell function organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), Justice Rastogi said: “What I realised in these five to ten years… it is my feeling, I may be wrong and I must be proved to be wrong. If somebody wants to say that I am an independent judge, unbiased judge. To my understanding, decide the matter anti-establishment, give your opinion against the government, you are an independent judge. I said ‘no’. We as judges are supposed to decide the matter with material on record, whether it will be this way or that way is not for consideration.”
“This thing has been perceived by people at large and the media also supports it. You make a comment against the government everybody will be happy, finest judge. Give judgment against anti-establishment, finest judge… this practice prevalent with people needs to change. I may decide the matter against the government or in favour of the government… what we decide is on the basis of material on record and do justice to the people. I have not been able to gather where this term justice lies, whether I decide in favour of the petition or against the petitioner.”
Justice Rastogi was elevated as a judge of the Rajasthan High Court in 2013 and served as its acting Chief Justice for a short stint in 2016. In 2018, he was transferred to the Tripura High Court as its Chief Justice, before his elevation to the Supreme Court on November 2, 2018. Justice Rastogi will retire on June 18.
Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, earlier in the day sitting on a ceremonial bench with another outgoing judge, Justice V. Ramasubramanian, highlighted his dedication to his judicial duties, as well as his pursuits in Sanskrit and Tamil.
He said he had requested Justice Ramasubramanian to assume the position of a tribunal chairman whenever a vacancy arose. However, Justice Ramasubramanian said he wants to remain a free person untrammelled by the duties of a judicial office.
Justice Ramasubramanian will retire on June 30.
Justice K.M. Joseph, on his last working day, said members of the Bar must be in the forefront in the fight against forces which can overcome the constitutional way of life we have adopted. He said the independence of the apex court is integral to maintain democratic way of life and rule of law.
Sitting on the ceremonial bench with the Chief Justice Chandrachud, Justice Joseph said: “All that you have said I take with a generous pinch of salt and it is customary and I would be naive if I take it at the face value… Thank you for all that you have said and perhaps what you have not said.”
(The story has been published via a syndicated feed with a modified headline.)