19th May 2023 was a bittersweet day for the Supreme Court of India; a “circle of life” moment where in the morning 2 new Judges were inducted into the folds of the Court and in the evening, the Bar and the Bench gathered to bid adieu 3 senior Judges- Justice K.M. Joseph, Justice Ajay Rastogi and Justice V. Ramasubramanian.
A farewell function was organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association1 on 19-05-2023, which was attended by the Chief Justice of India, Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, the retiring Judges, Executive Committee of the SCBA and other esteemed dignitaries. Given the fact that the summer vacations of the Supreme Court will be from 22-05-2023 till 02-07-20232, and the Judges will be officially retiring in June (within the duration of the vacation),
The farewell function organised by the SCBA was a mixture of solemnity and joviality. While there was nostalgia about shared memories, there were also occasions when the speakers chose more poetic ways to convey their sadness to bid adieu to the Judges.
Addressing the gathering, newly elected SCBA President, Mr Adhish Aggarwala recounted occasions when precious advice was given to the members of the Bar by the retiring Judges. Expressing his sadness over starting his tenure as the new President by bidding farewell to the three senior Judges, Mr Aggarwala recited a ‘sher' (couplet) by Mirza Ghalib
“Hame pata hai tum kahin aur ke mehmaan ho,
Hamara sheher toh bas yun hi raaste me aa gaya tha”
Chief Justice of India, Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, who also addressed the gathering, fondly reminisced his experiences with the retiring Judges and their tenure and thanked them for their immense contribution towards nation building. Before departing from the dais, he recited an Irish Blessing of a Younger Brother for the Judges-
“May the Road rise up to meet you,
May the Wind be always at you back,
May the Sun shines warm upon your face,
The Rains fall soft upon your feels,
and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand”.
The Retiring Judges and Their Legacy
Justice Kuttiyil Mathew Joseph- “Rule of Law Personified”
Justice K.M. Joseph was born on 17-06-1958 to former Supreme Court Judge, Justice K.K. Mathew. Having enrolled in the Bar and starting his practice in 1982 in Delhi High Court and later shifted to Kerala High Court. Justice K.M. Joseph went on to become a Permanent Judge in the very same High Court in 2004 and later Chief Justice of Uttaranchal High Court in 2014. He was later elevated to the Supreme Court in 2018.
At the SCBA Farewell function, newly elected SCBA Vice- President, Mr. Sukumar Pattjoshi highlighted the contributions of Justice K.M. Joseph. Terming Justice Joseph to be “Rule of Law personified”, Mr. Pattjoshi recounted that Justice K.M. Joseph puts emphasis that the Bar should not only work for welfare of their brethren, but they should also contribute towards nation building and upholding the Rule of Law. He also recalled Justice K.M. Joseph's love for music and philosophy3.
Taking the dais, Chief Justice, Dr. DY Chandrachud stated that how he and Justice KM Joseph have been friends for 51 years and how well they know each other's thoughts. Justice Chandrachud revealed that Justice KM Joseph is a “football maestro”, and went on to state some of his favourite judgments by the retiring Judge.
Lastly, Justice Chandrachud in his eloquent words, celebrated the simple living and high thinking of a Judge who once turned up to the Kerala High Court on a bicycle and whose “knowledge on varied subjects shines through, not only on the Bench but off of it.”
Justice K.M. Joseph is known to uphold the constitutional principles as well as principles of social equality in his judgments. The reasonings provided by Justice K.M. Joseph has only enriched one's understanding of the nitty-gritties of law and society.
Justice K.M. Joseph has authored around 100+ Judgments so far.
Recent Notable Decisions
An Independent Election Commission of India as envisioned by Supreme Court's Constitution Bench
The 5-judge Constitution Bench of K.M. Joseph*, Ajay Rastogi**, Aniruddha Bose, Hrishikesh Roy and C.T. Ravikumar, JJ., in Anoop Baranwal v. Union of India, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 216, has settled the dispute revolving around appointment of members of the Election Commission of India (ECI) and has held that the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners shall appointed by the President on the advice of a 3-member committee consisting of:
The Prime Minister of India;
The leader of opposition in Lok Sabha or in case, there is no such Leader, the Leader of the largest Party in the Opposition in the Lok Sabha having the largest numerical strength;
The Chief Justice of India.
“The present and future of a country cannot remain a prisoner of the past”: Supreme Court
In the matter of Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay v. Union of India, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 207, seeking to constitute a “Renaming Commission” to find out original names of ‘ancient historical cultural religious places', named after barbaric foreign invaders in order to maintain Sovereignty and to secure ‘Right to Dignity, Right to Religion and Right to Culture', the Division Bench of K.M. Joseph* and B.V. Nagarathna, JJ., observed that the governance of Bharat must conform to Rule of law, secularism, constitutionalism of which Article 14 stands out as the guarantee of both equality and fairness in the State’s action.
“The history of any nation cannot haunt the future generations of a nation to the point that succeeding generations become prisoners of the past. The golden principle of fraternity which again is enshrined in the preamble is of the greatest importance and rightfully finds its place in the preamble as a constant reminder to all stakeholders that maintenance of harmony between different sections alone will lead to the imbibing of a true notion of nationhood bonding sections together for the greater good of the nation and finally, establish a sovereign democratic republic”.
‘Right to property not absolute; can be regulated under Town Planning laws'; Supreme Court upholds Rule mandating reservation of Open Spaces in Development Projects
In case where the issue revolved around the mandatory earmarking of a portion of land by the developer as an Open Space Regulation area (OSR) in terms of Rule 19 of the Development Control Rules, the bench of KM Joseph* and PS Narasimha, JJ., in Association of Vasanth Apartments' Owners v. V. Gopinath, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 137, upheld the said Rule and has observed that the areas covered by the OSR cannot be diverted for any other purpose and must be stringently utilised only for the purpose in the Rule/Regulation.
Read More about Justice K.M. Joseph here: Know Thy Judge | Justice K.M. Joseph
Justice Ajay Rastogi- “The Master of Greens”
Justice Ajay Rastogi was born on 18-06-1958 in Jaipur to Shri. Harish Chandra Rastogi. He followed the footsteps of his father and joined the bar in 1982. During the years of his practice at Rajasthan High Court, he practised in different spheres of law but was specialized in service and labour laws.
Justice Rastogi took oath as a Judge in the Rajasthan High Court on 02-09-2004. He was officiated as the Administrative Judge of the Rajasthan High Court on 19-07-2014 and continued till his elevation as Chief Justice of the Tripura High Court.
Justice Ajay Rastogi was recommended by the Collegium for being appointed as Chief Justice of the High Court of Tripura on 01-02-2018 and took oath on 01-03-2018. He was elevated as Judge of the Supreme Court on 02-11-2018.
In the farewell function, Shri Sukumar Pattjoshi recalled the tips he received regarding the SCBA elections from Justice Ajay Rastogi. He also stated that Justice Rastogi is a pragmatic Judge with a heart.
Chief Justice, Dr. DY Chandrachud, recalled the Covid years when he had to work closely with Justice Rastogi and applauded his cooperation and contribution towards making Supreme Court as digital Court. Justice D.Y. Chandrachud also revealed that Justice Ajay Rastogi is an astute golfer and called him “Master of the Greens”. He fondly reminisced that how upon returning from an International Conference in Russia, Justice Ajay Rastogi brought treats for all the staff and Judges.
Finally, Justice Chandrachud highlighted that how Justice Rastogi has fostered a culture of compassion and wisdom and his willingness to listen. The Chief Justice also applauded Justice Rastogi's immense expertise in labour and service matters and the compassion with which he has dealt with them during his Judgeship, and Justice Rastogi's belief that law and service matters are not only about abstract legal principles, but it also deals with real people.
Justice Ajay Rastogi has also authored more than 100 judgments so far.
Recent Notable Decisions
An Independent Election Commission of India as envisioned by Supreme Court's Constitution Bench
The 5-judge Constitution Bench of K.M. Joseph*, Ajay Rastogi**, Aniruddha Bose, Hrishikesh Roy and C.T. Ravikumar, JJ., in Anoop Baranwal v. Union of India, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 216, has settled the dispute revolving around appointment of members of the Election Commission of India (ECI).
Justice Rastogi, who agreed with the majority opinion penned by Justice Hrishikesh Roy, gave the following additional suggestion in his concurring opinion:
The grounds of removal of the Election Commissioners shall be the same as that of the Chief Election Commissioner that is on the like grounds as a Judge of the Supreme Court subject to the “recommendation of the Chief Election Commissioner” as provided under the second proviso to Article 324(5) of the Constitution of India.
The conditions of service of the Election Commissioners shall not be varied to his disadvantage after appointment.
Ad-hoc judicial service does not count as ‘judicial service' for elevation as a High Court Judge
The bench of Ajay Rastogi and Bela M Trivedi, JJ., in C. Yamini v. High Court of Andhra Pradesh, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 176, refused to grant any relief to the members of the Andhra Pradesh State Judicial Service who had approached the Court claiming that the service which they have rendered as District & Sessions Fast Track judges on Ad-hoc basis has not been considered as a judicial service for the purpose of seniority for elevation to the Bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court as defined under Article 217(2)(a) of the Constitution.
Here's why Supreme Court upheld DMK MP Kanimozhi Karunanidhi's election from Tamil Nadu's Thoothukudy
In a big relief to DMK Leader Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, the bench of Ajay Rastogi and Bela M Trivedi*, JJ., Kanimozhi Karunanidhi v. A. Santhana Kumar, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 573, upheld her election in the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections from Tamil Nadu's Thoothukudy Lok Sabha Constituency. Her election was challenged on the ground that she had intentionally supressed the information about the payment of income tax of her spouse. The Supreme Court however observed that mere bald and vague allegations without any basis would not be sufficient compliance of the requirement of stating material facts in the Election Petition.
Read more about Justice Ajay Rastogi here- Know Thy Judge | Justice Ajay Rastogi
Justice V. Ramasubramanian- A Dreamer, Thinker and a Storyteller
Justice V. Ramasubramanian was born on 30-06-1958 in Mannargudi. He did his schooling in Hindu High School at Triplicane. He passed B.Sc from Vivekananda College in Chennai and completed his LL.B. from Madras Law College.
Justice V. Ramasubramanian enrolled as a Member of the Bar on 16-02-1983. He mainly practised in Civil and Constitutional matters and was specialized in service matters.
He was appointed as an Additional Judge of the Madras High Court on 31-07-2006 and became permanent Judge on 9-11-2009. He continued to serve in the Madras High Court until 2016, when he was transferred to the common High Court for Andhra Pradesh & Telangana. Justice Ramasubramanian was elevated as the Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court on 22-06-2019. He relinquished the charge on 23-09-2019 (forenoon) on being elevated as a Judge of the Supreme Court of India.
At the SCBA farewell function, Vice President, Sukumar Pattjoshi highlighted the progressiveness of Justice Ramasubramanian, which also gets reflected in his judgments. Mr Pattjoshi further applauded the literary pursuits of Justice Ramasubramanian especially his contributions towards development of Tamil language. Praising Justice Ramasubramanian's literary genius, Mr Pattjoshi stated that Justice Ramasubramanian has also authored a book in Tamil explaining the legal principles highlighted in Kamba Ramayanam.
Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud termed Justice Ramasubramanian as a “living example of dreams are for you to pursue”. Justice Chandrachud narrated the struggles that Justice Ramasubramanian had to face while making way within the legal profession and how through his determination, the Judge fulfilled his dreams.
Justice Chandrachud also applauded the wit and expert word play often used by the Justice Ramasubramanian in judgments and interactions. The Chief Justice also applauded that fact that Justice Ramasubramanian's style of writing judgments like a story has demystified the law for the people.
Furthermore, the Chief Justice also praised Justice Ramasubramanian's passion for Tamil Literature, Sanskrit and Carnatic Music and also recalled that how Justice Ramasubramanian added new vocabulary to the language of Tamil by running a column in a Tamil newspaper under the caption “Sol Vettai” for 50 weeks and he felicitated the one of the participants who was serving a life sentence in Puzhal Prison and as a mark of recognition of the involvement of a life convict in this exercise, Justice Ramasubramanian got the life convict out on parole for the Book release function and made the life convict sit on the dais with him and receive the first copy of the book.
The Chief Justice was full of praise for Justice Ramasubramanian's humility, humour and wit and his endeavour to motivate young lawyers. The Chief Justice also made a light-hearted remark on how he tried to assign Justice Ramasubramanian a post- retirement task, but he refused to take it up because now just wants to be a free bird!
Justice V. Ramasubramanian has authored 80+ judgments during his tenure as Supreme Court Judge.
Recent Notable Decisions
Ministers and the freedom to make ‘hurtful' statements
A Constitution Bench of S Abdul Nazeer, AS Bopanna, BR Gavai, V Ramasubramanian* & BV Nagarathna**, JJ, in Kaushal Kishor v. State of Uttar Pradesh, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 6, delivered verdict on the issue relating to freedom of speech of public functionaries and whether the right to life and personal liberty of citizens impedes the same and has ruled against imposing further restrictions on freedom of speech of Ministers. V Ramasubramanian, J delivered the verdict for himself and SA Nazeer, AS Bopanna, BR Gavai, JJ, however, BV Nagarathna, J, while agreeing with the reasoning and conclusions arrived at by the majority on certain questions referred, went on to lend a ‘different perspective' on some issues by way of separate opinion.
“Child cannot be used as a pawn to prove allegation of adultery against wife”; SC lays down scope of using DNA profiling in divorce cases
When in a dispute between a married couple, a 9-year-old child was sought to be used as a ‘pawn' to prove the allegation of adultery against the wife, the bench of V Ramasubramanian* and BV Nagarathna**, JJ., Aparna Ajinkya Firodia v. Ajinkya Firodia, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 161, upheld the right to privacy of the child and has held that an order directing that a minor child be subjected to DNA test should not be passed mechanically in each and every case.
Section 138 NI Act| Conviction cannot be confirmed once parties enter into MoU for amicable settlement of dispute
In a case falling under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881, the bench of Krishna Murari and V. Ramasubramanian, JJ., BV Seshaiah v. State of Telangana, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 96, has set aside the conviction by the Trial Court and has held that the Telangana High Court could not have confirmed the conviction when the parties had entered into a Memorandum of Understanding for amicable settlement of dispute, leading to compounding the offence.
Read more about Justice V. Ramasubramanian here: Know Thy Judge | Justice V. Ramasubramanian