OP. ED.

Justice Dr Arjan Kumar Sikri’s remarkable tenure of around 6 years ends as a Supreme Court Judge today i.e. 06-03-2019.

“Education took us from thumb impression to signature; Technology has taken us from signature to thumb impression, again” – Justice Sikri (Aadhaar Judgment)”

Justice Dr Arjan Kumar Sikri commonly known as the “Professor Judge” because of his spectacular academic record was born on 07-03-1954.

“Be patient. There is no limit, and work hard. Don’t think you can achieve name and fame in a day.”*

-Justice Dr A.K. Sikri

With an excellent academic record, he stood third in the merit list in Higher Secondary from CBSE, Delhi, following which he completed his B.Com (Hons.) from Shriram College of Commerce, Delhi University in the year 1974 and LL.B. from Law Faculty, Delhi University in the year 1977.

Strokes of Genius

He was awarded Gold Medal for attaining first position in LL.B. Awarded special prize for getting highest marks in Constitutional Law I & II. During his LL.M. from Delhi University, he was ranked first in 3-Year course. Acquired the position of president of Campus Law Centre, Delhi University during 1976-1977 and was also a member of Academic Council of Delhi University for the same duration along with being a member in various other committees of Delhi University.

Early Life as an Advocate

Justice Sikri had enrolled as an Advocate in July, 1977 with Bar Council of Delhi and started practicing in Delhi. Conducted cases of all types with specialization in Constitutional cases, Labour – Service Matters and Arbitration Matters. He was also a part-time lecturer at Campus Law Centre, Delhi University (1984-89). He was also the Vice-President, Delhi High Court Bar Association during 1994-1995. Following which he was designated as a Senior Advocate by Delhi High Court on 30-09-1997.

Journey of a “Judge” with the belief of – Sensitization of Judges to have speedy justice

The impeccable journey of Justice Sikri started with him being appointed as a Delhi High Court Judge on 7-07-1999. As a Judge, he dealt with all kinds of jurisdictions and gave many landmark judgments.

He was chosen as one of the 50 most influential persons in Intellectual Property in the world in a survey conducted by Managing Intellectual Property Association (MIPA) for the year 2007.

He achieved another milestone by being appointed as an Acting Chief Justice of Delhi High Court on  10-10-2011 and was elevated as the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court on 23-09-2012.

Odyssey of the Illustrious Personality of Justice Dr A.K. Sikri

On 12-04-2013, A.K. Sikri was elevated to the Supreme Court of India.

Has been conferred Doctorate of Laws, Honoris Causa, by Dr Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, Lucknow, in November 2013.

As a Judge of the Supreme Court of India, Justice Sikri has been a part of more than 900 judgments from which several turned out to be landmark ones.

Some of the Judgments of which Dr A.K. Sikri was a part of and would always be used in common parlance are as follows:

Aadhaar Verdict | Aadhaar here to stay; K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India (Aadhaar-5 Judge) (2019) 1 SCC 1

“Better be unique than being best; Aadhaar means unique”

Passive Euthanasia is permissible; Human beings have a fundamental right to die; Common Cause v. Union of India2018 SCC OnLine SC 208

“It is an undisputed that Doctors’ primary duty is to provide treatment and save life but not in the case when a person has already expressed his desire of not being subjected to any kind of treatment. It is a common law right of people, of any civilized country, to refuse unwanted medical treatment and no person can force him/her to take any medical treatment which the person does not desire to continue with”

Only “green” fireworks permitted to be manufactured and sold: SC; Arjun Gopal v. Union of India 2018 SCC OnLine SC 2118

“directions to be followed for burning of crackers while refusing the complete ban on the sale of firecrackers as it may lead to extreme economic hardships”

Karnataka Elections: KG Bopaiah to continue to be pro-tem speaker; SC orders Live broadcast of Floor Test;

“Live broadcast of Floor Test would be the best way to ensure transparency of proceedings.”

Motilal Pesticides overruled as it missed the difference in the terms ‘Income’ and ‘Gross Total Income’; Vijay Industries v. CIT, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 299

“Reading of Section 80HH along with Section 80A would clearly signify that such a deduction has to be of gross profits and gains, i.e., before computing the income as specified in Sections 30 to 43D of the Act.”

Delhi v. Centre: Powers demarcated; Split verdict on power to transfer and appoint officers; State (NCT of Delhi) v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 193

Maharashtra Dance Bar law; Indian Hotel and Restaurant Assn. v. State of Maharashtra2019 SCC OnLine SC 41

Amend S. 80DD of IT Act to give benefit to disabled persons even during the lifetime of guardian: SC to Centre; Ravi Agrawal v. Union of India2019 SCC OnLine SC 5

“Where guardian has become very old but is still alive, though he is not able to earn any longer or he may be a person who was in service and has retired from the said service and is not having any source of income. In such cases, it may be difficult for such a parent/guardian to take care of the medical needs of his/her disabled child. Even when he/she has paid full premium, the handicapped person is not able to receive any annuity only because the parent/guardian of such handicapped person is still alive.”

In a recent judgment of the Supreme Court [Dnyaneshwar Suresh Borkar v. State of Maharashtra; 2019 SCC OnLine SC 304]in the case of a murder convict, of which Justice Sikri was a part; the Court took note of a very rare thing that “that, from the poems, written by him in the jail, it appears that he has realised his mistake which was committed by him at the time when he was of young age and that he is reformative; therefore the appellant can be reformed and rehabilitated.” and refused to place this case in “rarest of rare category”.

Ideology | Keyword to success: Hard Work

On analysing few of Justice Sikri’s interviews his only mantra to the student’s pursuing law was summed up in three stages as mentioned:

Three stages in a lawyer’s career – First: Work, work and no money; Second: money commensurate to the work; and finally, little work and a lot of money.

“While the human in law is important, humane in law is indispensable.”

-Justice Dr A.K. Sikri

How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world”, this quote by William Shakespeare is apt, to sum up, the momentous journey of Justice Dr Arjan Kumar Sikri.


*https://lawschoolpolicyreview.com/2018/08/15/drawing-the-line-lspr-in-conversation-with-honble-justice-a-k-sikri/

OP. ED.

Today marks the end of over six years long remarkable career of Justice Madan Bhimrao Lokur as a Supreme Court Judge. He will retire on 30 December 2018. But effectively, today is his last working day as the Supreme Court will go on Christmas and New Year holidays from 17-12-2018  to 01-01-2019 (and 15-16 December being Saturday and Sunday). 

Born on 31 December 1953, Madan B. Lokur graduated in History (Honours) from prestigious St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University.  After obtaining a degree in law from Delhi University’s Faculty of Law, he started practicing in Delhi High Court. After qualifying AoR examination in 1981, he enrolled as an Advocate-on-Record in the Supreme Court. He was designated as Senior Advocate in 1997. Before becoming Additional Solicitor General of India in 1998, he also served as Standing Counsel for Central Government from 1990 to 1996. Justice Lokur was appointed as an Additional Judge of Delhi High Court in 1999 before becoming a Permanent Judge in the same year. Justice Lokur served as Acting Chief Justice of Delhi High Court for a brief period in February-May 2010. He was appointed as Chief Justice of Gauhati High Court on 24 June 2010. He held that office till 14 November 2011 after which he served as Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court from 15 November 2011 to 3 June 2012. Justice Madan B. Lokur was elevated and appointed as Judge of the Supreme Court on 4 June 2012 and will retire on 30 December 2018. 

Justice Lokur is known for his keen interest in juvenile justice and judicial reforms along with judicial education, legal aid and alternate dispute resolution. He has been a member of Mediation and Conciliation Project Committee and Judge-in-Charge of E-Committee of the Supreme Court. Justice Madan B. Lokur is the second senior most Judge in the Supreme Court whose bench has come to be popularly known as “social justice bench” over the years. The latest instance re-affirming the apt name given to Justice Lokur’s Bench is his yesterday’s judgment in Ashwani Kumar v. Union of India, (2019) 2 SCC 636, where he directed the Government to ensure that elderly people’s rights under Article 21 are properly enforced. In his opening statement, Justice Lokur reiterated his position in these terms: Social justice in the Preamble of our Constitution has been given pride of place and for good reason since it is perhaps the most important and significant form of justice.”

In another judgment yesterday in Inhuman Conditions in 1382 Prisons, In re, (2019) 2 SCC 435, Justice Lokur considering the issue of condition of death convicts from a “humanitarian and compassionate” perspective, stated that “a prisoner is entitled to every creature comfort and facilities such as bed and pillow, opportunity to commerce with humankind, writing material, newspapers, books, meeting with family members etc.”

Also day before yesterday, he commuted 2 death sentences into life imprisonment including that in Rajendra Pralhadrao Wasnik v. State of Maharashtra, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 2799 where while delivering the judgment for the Court, Justice Lokur laid stress on reformative theory and opined, “probability (not possibility or improbability or impossibility) that a convict can be reformed and rehabilitated in society must be seriously and earnestly considered by the courts before awarding the death sentence.”

On Tuesday as well, in Nipun Saxena v. Union of India, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 2772, where Justice Lokur was on the Bench with Deepak Gupta, J., the Court extensively considered the problem of social ostracisation and harassment of victims of rape and sexual offences and noted that “Any litigant who enters the court feels intimidated by the atmosphere of the court. Children and women, especially those who have been subjected to sexual assault are virtually overwhelmed by the atmosphere in the courts. They are scared. They are so nervous that they, sometimes, are not even able to describe the nature of the crime accurately. When they are cross-examined in a hostile and intimidatory manner then the nervousness increases and the truth does not come out.” This in Court’s opinion makes it imperative that we should have courts which are child-friendly and trials which are victim friendly. 

One may also remember that the same Bench in October last year held in Independent Thought v. Union of India, (2017) 10 SCC 800 that sexual intercourse with a minor wife is rape. Justice Lokur in his judgment stated, “It must be remembered that those days are long gone when a married woman or a married girl child could be treated as subordinate to her husband or at his beck and call or as his property. Constitutionally a female has equal rights as a male and no statute should be interpreted or understood to derogate from this position. If there is some theory that propounds such an unconstitutional myth, then that theory deserves to be completely demolished.”

Not only these but there are numerous decisions which time and again justify the stature and respect which Justice Madan B. Lokur commands in the legal and judicial fraternity. Also, one cannot help but remember the press conference held by the then four senior-most Judges (next to the Chief Justice) of the Supreme Court. Justice Lokur was also one among them who had come out in public for what he believed was necessary for transparency in the administration of judiciary. 

And the saga of Justice Lokur’s legacy in the Highest Court of the Country comes to an end.


Image Courtesy: https://www.uttarpradesh.org

Hot Off The PressNews

In yet another unprecedented move by Justice J Chelameswar, the soon to retire Supreme Court judge has declined to attend his farewell function to be organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) citing personal reasons. According to reports, when approached by SCBA, Justice J Chelameswar said that he was not comfortable with such events, and that he did not want a farewell function even when he was transferred from the Andhra Pradesh High Court. The members of SCBA said that they will again meet Justice Chelameswar to persuade him. They, however, expressed reservations whether they will be able to do so.

It is not the first time when Justice Chelameswar has hit the headlines. He has more often than not been in the news for his unprecedented moves. In January this year, for the first time, the nation witnessed a press conference held by the senior most sitting judges of the Supreme Court highlighting the issue of allotment of cases by CJI Dipak Misra. Justice J Chelameswar, leading the press conference that also included Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Kurian Jospeh, said:

“All four of us are convinced that unless this institution is preserved and it maintains its equanimity, democracy will survive in this country, or any country.”

It is important to note that the said allotment of cases issue, famously known as the ‘Master of Roster’ issue is still doing rounds with Opposition filing impeachment motion against CJI Dipak Misra.

Later, in March, Justice Chelameswar agin wrote a letter to CJI Dipak Misra, highlighting the ‘Executive encroachment’ in the judicial matters. In the letter, he highlighted the issue of ‘executive bidding’ by Justice Dinesh Maheswari, the Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court for the elevation of Krishna Bhat, a District & Sessions Judge.

Justice J Chelameswar, who is due to retire on June 22nd, will serve as the senior most Supreme Court judge for one last time on May 18th, the last working day before the Court breaks for summer vacation.

(With inputs from News18)