New Delhi: Justice J Chelameswar today received glowing compliments from top lawyers for his judicial approach, with former law minister Shanti Bhushan even equating with Justice H R Khanna, the lone dissenting voice in a verdict that had upheld suspension of fundamental rights during the Emergency.
The remarks by Shanti Bhushan and Dushyant Dave came a day before the court adjourns for summer vacation which could also be the second last day of his judicial work.
Justice Chelameswar, the senior most judge after Chief Justice (CJI) Dipak Misra, has been at loggerheads with the CJI after he had led three judges — Justices Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph — to an unprecedented press conference on January 12 for alleging arbitrary allocation of cases.
The judge, who demits office on June 22 during the vacation, has refused to accept the invitation of the Supreme Court Bar Association to attend a farewell ceremony in his honour.
Senior advocate Shanti Bhushan hailed Justice Chelameswar for his “courage, judicial approach and uprightness” and said he was one of the greatest judges of the top court and drew parallel between him and late legendery judge Justice H R Khanna, who was superseded by a junior judge during the Indira Gandhi rule.
Justice Khanna was in a minority in the infamous ADM Jabalpur case that had held that the State has the power to suspend fundamental rights even the right to life during the Emergency.
Bhushan’s views found an echo in the tributes given by senior advocate Dushyant Dave, who said that former law minister’s tribute was befitting of a great judge.
“He (Justice HR Khanna) sat in court room 2 and people talk about him all the time. His portrait is here. I am sure your’s will be here soon,” Bhushan told Justice Chelameswar.
Bhushan said in his decades-long professional career, Justice Chelameswar was one of the “greatest judges” that he has had the fortune of appearing before.
After Bhushan ended his tribute, Dave joined in and said it has been a privilege and pleasure of the Bar members to appear before a judge like Justice Chelameswar.
Visibly moved by these tributes, Justice Chelameswar thanked the members of the Bar, Bhushan and Dave. He also apologised for being harsh on the Bar at times, saying it was not intentional.
“In the last 6 years and 10 months, if I have been angry and unreasonable, it was not intentional and not because I had anything personal against anyone. It is only because of the lack of preparation or such reasons. I apologise if I hurt anyone’s feelings,” Justice Chelameswar said.