Outgoing Chief Justice of India JS Khehar has said his children suffered hardships when they started their legal practice on account of his position as judge of high court and subsequently the Supreme Court.
Justice Khehar, who has three sons - Tarunveer, Karanveer and Birender, all practicing as lawyers, said they were outstanding members of his family and stood by him in all odds.
They had to face difficulties in their lives because of his position.
“My children suffered great hardship … My eldest son Tarunveer wished to practice. At that time, I was a judge in Chandigarh HC. He had to move to Delhi and live in great hardship.
When the two others wanted to start practice here, I was a judge in Delhi and they had to move to Chandigarh. They also suffered great hardship, they also lived in rented accommodation to start with… If they suffered on my account, they would have become fit to face life better,” he said.
In the recent past, several reports have appeared in the media about his sons misusing their father’s position.
Justice Khehar, who was a citizen of Kenya and had done his primary education in Nairobi, said he was grateful to this country for allowing him to serve it as head of the judiciary.
“I would like to thank my country, my beloved motherland for giving me opportunity to serve it… It allowed me to serve it at its highest judicial office. I serve my country in the manner of discharging the debt.
“I feel that it is difficult to discharge the debt of your country. It is something like you can’t discharge the debt of your parents. I feel it is impossible to discharge the debt that you owe to your country,” Justice Khehar, who will demit the office on Aug. 27 (Sunday), said while addressing lawyers at a farewell function organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA).
In the word of appreciation to senior and junior lawyers, his colleagues and the staff, Justice Khehar acknowledged that he would miss them as they never let him down.
Friday was the last working day for Justice Khehar, who is known in the fraternity as a very energetic judge.
Justice Dipak Misra, CJI-designate, referred to Justice Khehar’s word that he would rest after his retirement and said, “He will be restless, if he will rest after retirement.”
“Justice Khehar is a man with democratic attitude. He is affectionate…,” Justice Misra said in his speech while bidding adieu to Justice Khehar.
Attorney General for India KK Venugopal, on the occasion, cautioned outspoken lawyers from speaking against judges, terming it “reprehensible”.
Since judges do not come forward and defend themselves, the lawyers should avoid involving in such a thing which would otherwise impact the administration of justice.
SCBA president RS Suri said Justice Khehar was “an excellent advocate, sincere to the cause of his client; an ideal judge, wedded to the constitutional norms steeped in the colours of justice, whose heart bleeds for have-nots and who is dictated by his conscience, which is engraved with principles of fairness - he is a true Karam Yogi”.
Full Text of SCBA President RS Suri's Speech
Hon’ble Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar and his better half Mrs.Madhupreet Kaur Khehar, designate Chief Justice Dipak Mishra, Hon’ble Judges of the Supreme Court, Mr. K.K Venugopal, Attorney General for India, Mr. Ranjit Kumar Solicitor General of India, esteemed Law Officers, Past Presidents Mr. P.P Rao and P.H Parekh, Mr. Ajit Kumar Sinha Vice President SCBA, Mr. Gaurav Bhatia, Secretary SCBA, Mr. Gopal Singh, President SCAORA, members of SCAORA, members of the SCBA Executive Committee, my esteemed colleagues, ladies and gentleman;
Year 2017 is the 350th year of birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. He requested his father Guru Teg Bahadur to go and sacrifice his life to protect Hindus who were being converted by Aurangzeb. Guru Teg Bahadur was beheaded in public in Chandni Chowk. Guru Gobind Singh also lost two sons in fight against tyrants and his two younger children were buried alive in a wall. Guru Gobind Singh infused fighting spirit amongst his followers by baptizing them with Amrit. Chief Justice Khehar seems to be following his teachings in actual practice. He seems to be working on two maxims given by Guru Gobind Singh,
Soora sau pehchaniye jo lade deen ke hait
Purja purja kat mare, kabhun na chhade khait
Which roughly means; he alone is a warrior, who fights for a cause. He may be cut piece by piece, but he never leaves the battlefield.
Deh siva bar mohe eh-hey subh karman te kabhu na taro.
Na daro arr seo jab jaye laro nischey kar apni jit karo.
Arr Sikh ho apne he mann ko, eh laalach hou gun tau ucharo.
Jab aav ki audh nidan bane att he rann me tabh joojh maro.
One must never shirk from conducting oneself in the most upright and considerate possible manner. The Khalsa has to be prepared at all times to willingly and consistently behave in the most impartial and just manner and to always undertake to carry out righteous and Gurmat acts; to never have any fear or show even the slightest hesitation when taking such actions; to never flinch from stepping in front of the enemy to protect the poor, weak and needy of the world - to never have any apprehension or anxiety from the righteous fight ahead.
An excellent advocate sincere to the cause of his client, an ideal judge wedded to the constitutional norms steeped in the colors of justice, whose heart bleeds for have-nots and who is dictated by his conscious, which is engraved with principles of fairness- he is a true Karam Yogi. Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar succeeded the 43rd CJI Justice T.S. Thakur, to have become the first Sikh to adorn the highest chair of the Judiciary.
When I joined this profession, Mr. A.K. Ganguli, Advocate as he then was, advised me that seniority of lawyer is not to be judged by the number of years in profession but by number of minutes and seconds. In fact, Shri Rabindranath Tagore once said, “The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.” It is the moments that define a man and remain etched in the memory of humankind. Today, I can say with all the experience, that Chief Justice Khehar may have been CJI for 240 days as of today, but has made the most of each second and minute of the clock, as Justice Khehar has achieved much more than most would have achieved in a longer period.
His Great-grandfather Dr. Wazir Chand Ji, was part of the DAV institutions in Lahore and British believed that Dr. Wazir Chand Ji was a motivator towards the freedom struggle and therefore to avoid arrest he moved to Kenya. His Grandmother, Smt. Sulakshna Ji, was inspired by Lala Lajpat Rai. Hailing from such lineage, it is obvious that Justice Khehar has the nerve and courage to fight against the wrong and to stand for right. A son of a Kenyan migrant, whose family moved to India after Independence, when Justice Khehar was still a young school-going child. I think Africa has something in its soil; as it nurtures those leaders who believe in revolution by standing tall for Rule of Law.
A self made man who has arisen by sheer merit, tenacity and opportunity provided by our democratic Constitution, Justice Khehar rose to the stature and position of Chief Justice of India. Dr. Vijay Nagpal the chairman of Law Department in the Punjab University during the visit of the CJI on their third law convocation at Punjab University said;- “that even though Khehar was apart time teacher for the procedural law from 1982-1986, and was so popular among the students the students of other sections would also come to attend his lectures.” Lectures delivered by him at his alma mater were as famous as a rock concert. In the same convocation Justice Khehar said “his first salary was of Rs 600 which he used to spend on movies and restaurants” and how sense of nostalgia griped him when he received his first salary from his alma mater. It is rightly said, from humble beginnings come great things and our Chief Justice is a classic example of the same.
He continued his meteoric rise in the profession when he appeared as a counsel for Mr. M. Krishnaswamy, M.P. (from the Arani constituency in Tamil Nadu). Then he also had the privilege of addressing the Parliament being led by Mr. Kapil Sibal, in the matter of impeachment of Mr. Justice V. Ramaswami, before the Judges Inquiry Committee. Coming full circle, on 20th May 2010, Justice Khehar was also appointed by the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha as a Member of the Judges Inquiry Committee that was constituted to investigate the removal of Justice P. D. Dinakaran.
A complete workaholic who held court in vacations- he valued every minute of the clock. When Chief Justice Khehar took oath as a CJI, he rushed back to the court, to commence with the proceedings with the other brother Judges of this Court sharp at 10:30 a.m. In the entire vacation he was personally monitoring structural changes in the Supreme Court; and the working staff and the workmen used to surprised by his visits in the middle of the night.
He took efforts to remove the stalemate and communication gap between judiciary and executive and in this short span of 240 days, 75 number of judges were appointed to various High Courts.
Prime Minister Modi on the occasion of release of a book compiled by Hon’ble Justice Dalveer Bhandari in the Parliament House in front of His Excellency President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Mr. Arun Jaitley, Finance Minister, Mr. Ravi Shankar, Law Minister said that “I am singularly impressed by Justice Khehar the way he conducts himself with dignity and the quick pace of decisions he takes. The decisions are quality and I have to run to keep pace with his decisions and the only regret he has is the short tenure of the Chief Justice.”
Justice Khehar has penned down several LANDMARK JUDGMENTS which shows his impeccable knowledge in various fields of law. He has taken bold stands, fearlessly and as per his conscience. In C.S. Karnan case (2017) Contempt proceedings were initiated against a sitting High Court Judge for bringing disrepute to the Judiciary. He has always been a shield to protect the dignity of this institution. In Chandrakant Kaveleker v UOI (2017) the CJI mandated the Floor test to determine the majority of such person who enjoys support in legislature in the Goa Assembly elections march 2017. In service laws Justice Khehar in State of Punjab vs. Jagjit Singh (2016), held, “the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ would be applicable to all the concerned temporary employees, so as to vest in them the right to claim wages, at par with the minimum of the pay-scale of regularly engaged Government employees, holding the same post”. In the Nupur Talwar v CBI Justive Khehar 2012 he held “that defenses of a victim shall only be taken into consideration if defences raised by accused are factually unassailable and incontrovertible and demolishes the foundation of prosecution”.
Justice J. S. Khehar also headed a historic five judge Constitution bench in Nabam Rebia & Bamand Felix v. Bamang Felix Deputy Speaker & Others, [2016(8) SCC 1] that reinstated the Congress-led Arunachal Pradesh Government and held all the actions of the Governor violative of the Constitution. Alluding S R Bommai v. Union of India [(1994)3 SCC 1] Justice Khehar avowed that it had: “all the powers to put the clock back”.
Justice Khehar has truly written several quality judgments having long term impact but he is humble enough to give also credit to ingenious and creative and meaningful arguments submitted to the Bench by the members of the Bar. He is known for his command and expertise in administrative and Constitutional law. His judgments are one of the best precedence’s upon which the scales of justice are balanced. He engraved his mark on Indian jurisprudence while delivering the landmark judgment on the NJAC Act, upholding the ‘collegium system’ yet he welcomed suggestions to improve the collegium system.
In the case of Special Reference No. 1 (2012 10 SCC 1), where the Chief Justice explained the cornerstone of Article 14 of the constitution in following words:
“The concept of equality before the law and equal protection of the laws, emerges from the fundamental right expressed in Article 14 of the Constitution of India. Equality is a definite concept”.
And concluded the discussion in following lines: “One set of citizens cannot prosper at the cost of another set of citizens, for that would not be fair or reasonable”
In 2014, Justice J. S. Khehar was a part of a division bench that rejected the writ petition on behalf of Sahara which alleged violations to principles of natural justice and upheld the order jailing Sahara chairman Subrata Roy. Only a brave person could have taken up the issue of triple talaq. He gave gogent reasons for his minority view. The Constitution bench in respect of right to privacy would be ranked amongst the classic judgments advancing horizons on legal jurisprudence. Chief Justice Khehar has time and again proved his mettle, ingenuity and dedication for his work in his remarkable career.
On parameter of relations with the Bar, Hon’ble Justice Khehar excels and is second to none. It has been my honour to have been the President of the SCBA while Justice Khehar was serving as a CJI. From his zeal to digitize the Courts, to responding promptly to the pleas of the lawyers and litigants alike about the lack of space- He has been extremely kind and assessable to the Bar. In fact, he had mentioned that the entire Supreme Court Reports would be made available free-of-cost on the Supreme Court website. On behalf of the Bar he requested the Urban Affairs Minister to give land admeasuring more than half an acre in Appu Ghar for further construction of lawyer’s chambers and academic activities. On his promptness the then minister consented to the same. The Chief Justice quest for digitization is to expediate the process of the justice system as now on a click of a button the entire record of the trial court is made available before the judges and the practitioners of Supreme Court. The only task for the counsel now is to frame the grounds of appeal.
He seems to believe in the concept of affirmative equality whether one is a senior advocate or a junior advocate; a good order was never dependent upon the gown one wears, but what one argues. It may not be wrong to state that Justice Khehar has left a permanent imprint upon this Institution- structurally, administratively and jurisprudentially.
While inaugurating All India seminar of the International Law Association at New Delhi; on the issue of entry of foreign law firms he said that the entry of foreign law firms should be on reciprocal basis.
Chief Justice Khehar’s dedication and devotion to the Court and the Rule of law is best described by Sonai Satamayor, an Associate Justice of the US Supreme who says, “My judicial Philosophy is fidelity to the law.”
An Independent judiciary cannot survive in the absence of honest support from the independent Bar and Bar cannot strengthenwithout a visionary & cooperative judiciary.
Before I conclude, I would like to say that, in the short span of 8 months Chief Justice Khehar has endeared both the Bar and the Bench. You have set a high benchmark and it augers well for the coming Chief Justices and Judges. I end by a quote by Richard Bach, an American writer who said:-
"Don't be dismayed at good-byes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again."
I would also like to take this opportunity to welcome Chief Justice designate Justice Dipak Misra. I, Sir, even before My Lord takes the oath of Chief Justice India, can assure you that the Bar, for all issues would give him total support.
Justice Khehar, in retirement, you have several lamps to fuel including the Bar, which will never stop learning from you and the Bar will always stand with you. I wish Justice Khehar, his wife Smt. Madhupreet Kaur Khehar and his family a great life ahead. We bid you farewell with the hope and trust that you would meet us as often as possible.
About people like him Ghalib has written
“Inka Andaaze Bayan Kuch Aur Hai
Balaye Jaan Hai Ghalib, Uski Har Ek Baat
Ibarat Kya, Isharat Kya, Ada Kya
Inke Jaane Ka Manzar Tamasha Nahin
Dur Tak Dekhiye, Der Tak Sochiye”