Tuesday 5 May 2015

One of a fading species

There is a joke that when a Judge's dog dies, there are a large number of lawyers at his house to console him, but when the Judge dies there is none.

 This is because most people are selfish. A dead Judge cannot grant stay orders. So I made it a principle never to enter the Supreme Court premises after I retired in September 2011, because where I had presided, I would now have to come at suffrance. It is better to keep away and maintain one's dignity and self respect.

 The only excepion I made to this was when I went to the farewell function in the Supreme Court lawns on the retirement in July 2014 of Justice B.S.Chauhan, whom I regard as my younger brother. In that function, after the speeches were over everyone went to have high tea, but I was totally ignored, obviously because as a retired Supreme Court Judge I could not grant stay orders or bail orders.  I suppose that is the way of the world.

 But that is not my way.

Retired Judges of High Courts are mostly ignored by Chief Justices ( particularly since the Chief Justice comes from another state ), but as Chief Justice of 3 High Courts ( Acting Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court, and substantive Chief Justice of Madras and Delhi High Courts ) I treated retired Judges of the High Court as my elder brothers, who need to be looked after.

 When I became Acting Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court I met the then Chief Minister of U.P. Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav and requested him to grant an amount of Rs. 4000 per month to every retired Allahabad High Court Judge for engaging a domestic servant of his choice ( apart from his pension ), and this was granted. Apart from that, I appointed a sitting judge of the High Court as the protocol judge to give protocol facilities to retired High Court judges. Retired Judges are older people, often with medical ailments. The protocol facilities meant that they did not have to stand in a queue to buy a train ticket, or book an airline ticket, or pay electricity or water bills. A car would drop them at, and receive them from the railway station and airport., and someone from the Court would pay his bill on their behalf

 I introduced the same system in Madras High Court when I became Chief Justice there in November 2004.
  Only a few days after I had joined as Chief Justice in Madras High Court I learnt that Justice Ismail, an elderly respected judge of Madras High Court who had retired perhaps 20 years earlier, was very ill. I immediately asked a Judge of the High Court ( whom I had appointed as portfolio judge for the retired High Court Judges ) to go to his house and ask his relatives what the High Court, where he had served, could do for him ( unfortunately he died soon thereafter ).

 Justice Satyadev was a Judge of Madras High Court who had died before I became the Chief Justice. He was known to have the highest integrity, as I was informed, so much so that on the date he retired he came home in his private car, and not on his official car.

 I had given a dinner for the  High Court Judges and their spouses, and I personally went to the flat of his widow, Mrs. Satyadev to invite her, and thereafter also sent a car to bring her for the dinner.

 Long after I had ceased to be Chief Justice of Madras High Court I had an occasion to visit Chennai. I took an appointment with the Chief Minister Ms. Jayalalitha, and requested her to grant Rs.5000 per month to retired Madras High Court Judges for engaging a domestic servant.  She graciously acceded to my request.
As Chief Justice of Delhi High Court I set up a Judges Club, in which retired judges, too, would be members, and so could tell their problems to the sitting judges, who were like their younger brothers ( and sisters ). I wonder whether the club still exists
  I suppose I belong to a fading species


  1. Sir, you might feel as a fading figure only in some cliques. I am sure you must be aware of the regard and respect that is still accorded to you for your tremendous work in such an ever changing era.

  2. In India, a successful politician has to reach 80 to 90% people of his constituency, it is a tough job......that is why he is seen as law breaker. An employee of the executive wing does not even reach 25 % people he is supposed to serve. He keeps doing balancing act. Recently, Hyderabad high court Chief justice mentioned that only a fraction percentage of people are approaching the courts for justice. May be, that is why people pray them as honorable, if one has never interacted with some one, he would go by popular opinion. Time only will change that popular opinion. Dear Mr. Katju sir, whether you agree or not, you (the only personality active on social networking site) are naturally seen as a representative of the legal fraternity than a critic of the judiciary. Please write in detail about Judicial Independence, I believe people have wrong perceptions about it.

  3. You are a fierce critic on the one hand but on the other hand you are also human. Appreciate.

  4. You are a fierce critic on the one hand but on the other hand you are also human. Appreciate.

  5. I think that the retired Hon'ble Justices should be given all the facilities as similar as the serving Justices except the office expense. Trust me the quality and the quality judgements delivered by the retired Justices can not be compared with the serving Judges. We should respect them. I am not from judiciary nor I am a lawyer. But as per me they should be attached with the ECHS/ military hospitals for medicals, CSD canteen for tax free goods purchase and so on. Retired Judges of Supreme court and retired Chief Justice of High Courts should be treated and given facilities similar to a General of the Indian Army. And trust me if we ignore them then this ignirance will curculate a wrong message.

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