Rendering justice by granting the required relief is not an act of charity or mercy. Protection and enforcement of constitutional rights and freedoms is both the power and duty of the court and the grant of appropriate remedy is not the discretion of the Judge but his obligation. Justice should be tempered with mercy. But mercy is not the substitute of justice. Justice shall not be administered by courts actuated only by mercy, since justice is the recognition and observance of the constitutional rights of the people. Dignity based on rights is the quintessence of liberty in democracy. The court is called upon to exercise a right based adjudication. The reputation of the court is founded on the conviction of the people of this country. If that conviction is ever undermined, the reputation of this Court will inevitably suffer. I can say with truth that it has ever been my endeavour as this has always been of my predecessors and colleagues to safeguard and enhance the independence and reputation of the Court. I am proud to be a part of this Court which by its judgments have strengthened the democracy and Rule of Law.
I always treat judiciary as a Temple of Justice and the Judges, whether be of the Supreme Court, the High Court or the District Judiciary, as the chosen few to discharge the divine function of dispensing justice to the people.
A Judge is a lawyer mellowed by age, a man from whom the years have taken away illusions, exaggeration and prejudices. Lawyers and Judges are flesh and blood, the colour and flavour of justice. They have functioned together for centuries and have together refined many traditions.
Apart from carrying out its routine functions, the institution of judiciary has to prove its usefulness and importance by dint of good work by the persons forming part of the institution, that is, Judges, Lawyers and Officers and Staff of the Court. An institution grows and march towards heights by good deeds of all such persons forming the institution. I am reminded of the words of Justice Bhashyamlyengar, one of the greatest Judge of our country — “The path of greatness few can follow; the path of duty all can tread”.
The Supreme Court Bar is second to none and is most pleasant to work with. The Supreme Court Bar has played its valuable role in upholding the traditions of this Court and have firmly stood whenever need arose to protect the Rule of Law & democracy. A Judge administers the law and the lawyer guides him in doing it. They both set on a common purpose and the administration of justice is their joint responsibility. My relationship with the Bar was not between a Judge and an Advocate but on a personal plane, where interaction was easy and discharge of duties on either side pleasant and therefore both of us could be on the same wavelength and hence in dealing with cases, your cooperation was total and complete.
My tenure as a Judge of the Supreme Court of India has been the most rewarding for me personally. There can be no doubt that, I have had an opportunity of a lifetime, a privilege beyond description, to serve the cause of justice, alongside the finest Judges of this Nation. My debt of gratitude to everyone, associated with the Supreme Court. I have enjoyed the work here, as I have received able support and cooperation from one and all, which I shall always cherish.
No one can claim to be perfect, for perfection is the domain of God. All that we can do is to try to become less and less imperfect. I am conscious of my shortcomings and limitations, despite which members of the Bar of this Court have been courteous and respectful to me, for which I shall always remain indebted.
On this occasion, I wish each one of you the best in life. Myself and members of my family express sincere gratitude for the abudant love and affection showered on us. May God Almighty bless you all.
As I bid farewell to this great institution, I am reminded of a Sufi poetry,
— Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes;
Because for those who love with heart and soul there is no such thing as separation.
Thank you. Jai Hind.
† Judge, Supreme Court of India. Speech delivered at the Farewell Function organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association on 2-7-2021.
*The article has been published with kind permission of SCC Online cited as (2021) 5 SCC J-7