9 April 2023 5:25 AM GMT
While addressing the felicitation ceremony of former Chief Justices and Judges of the Orissa High Court as a part of its celebration of 75th year of establishment, Justice Bhushan Ramkrishna Gavai, Judge, Supreme Court said that the High Court has rightly been regarded as ‘custodian of the Constitution’. The event was attended by several dignitaries including former Chief...
While addressing the felicitation ceremony of former Chief Justices and Judges of the Orissa High Court as a part of its celebration of 75th year of establishment, Justice Bhushan Ramkrishna Gavai, Judge, Supreme Court said that the High Court has rightly been regarded as ‘custodian of the Constitution’.
The event was attended by several dignitaries including former Chief Justices of India, Justice Gopala Ballav Patnaik and Justice Dipak Misra; Chief Justice Dr. Justice S. Muralidhar and Judges of the High Court; a number of former Chief Justices and Judges of the High Court.
Landmark Judgments Of Orissa High Court
Justice Gavai, after giving a brief historical background of the Orissa High Court, said that in the last 75 years, it has contributed immensely to the development of law and delivered various judgments which fully stand the test of time and are still cited to this date by Courts all across the country.
He referred to some of the cases decided by the High Court. One of such cases that he talked about was A. Narain Murty & Anr. v. The King, ILR 1949 Cuttack 244. Even before the promulgation of the Constitution, the Court held that every prisoner has a right to consult lawyer. He underlined that the ratio of this landmark judgment of the High Court has been reiterated by the Supreme Court subsequently in multiple cases.
Further, he cited the case of Bhabani Shankar Tripathy v. Secretary to the Govt. of Orissa, Home Department, 1992 (I) OLR 344, wherein the Court had the occasion to decide whether the seat of the High Court to be transferred from Cuttack to Bhubaneswar. He quoted Justice Radha Charan Pattnaik, who had therein observed,
“High Court is a temple; its presiding deity is justice. Lawyers are its priests. Rest are votaries discharging their assigned role. Entertaining an idea of shifting a temple is considered a sacrilege except in exceptional circumstance and when it is unavoidable. Only compelling, cogent and convincing grounds may justify shifting of a temple. But entertaining a desire to shift a temple in a cavalier fashion or on whim or caprice or to please a group of people is neither wholesome nor desirable. If there be deficiency, cure the same; if it needs improvement or beautification, carry out the same, but desist from acting thoughtlessly.”
Proceeding further, Justice Gavai highlighted the recent misuse of the Public Interest Litigation (PIL), which is often used for gaining publicity and popularity. He underlined that as earlier as in 1997, a Division Bench of the High Court comprising of Justice Sailendu Nath Phukan and Dr. Justice Arijit Pasayat in Villagers of Jajarsingh v. State of Orissa, 83 (1997) CLT 667 had lamented misuse of the device.
He also referred to Basanti Mohanty v. State of Orissa, 72 (1991) CLT 127, wherein a Bench presided over by the then Chief Justice Banwari Lal Hansaria interpreted the term ‘authority’ under Article 226 of the Constitution of India in an expansive manner, by giving the widest possible meaning to the term. It held that not only the statutory bodies but also any ‘body’ performing public functions would be amenable to the writ jurisdiction.
Remarkable Personalities Of The Bench
Justice Gavai recognised the contributions made by the first Chief Justice of India from the State of Odisha, Justice Ranganath Misra. He made extensive reference to some of the landmark judgments delivered by him while serving at the Apex Court.
He emphasized that Justice Misra was a part of the Benches which decided contentious cases like Union Carbide Corporation v. Union of India and S.P. Sampath Kumar v. Union of India & Ors.
He also underscored some of the famous decisions rendered by Justice Gopala Ballav Patnaik, the 32nd CJI. He highlighted that Justice Patnaik was part of the Constitution Bench which decided the case in T.M.A. Pai Foundation & Ors. v. State of Karnataka & Ors.
“When I talk about Justice Patnaik, I am remined of Justice V.A. Mohta, who was closely associated with Justice Patnaik and he hailed from my Bar, i.e. the Nagpur Bar Association. [He was] one of the finest judges we had at Nagpur and also a very popular Chief Justice in Odisha. I always considered him to be my role-model,” he added.
He talked, with reverence, about the contributions made by the 45th CJI Justice Dipak Misra for development of law in the country. He highlighted the remarkable verdicts handed down by the Constitution Benches led Justice Misra in Joseph Shine v. Union of India and Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India.
Justice Gavai also recognised the contributions of Justice Vineet Saran as a Judge of the Supreme Court through various important judgments.
“Today is somewhat emotional and nostalgic for me. I am getting an opportunity to felicitate some of my dear friends. One of them, of course one of the most popular Chief Justices of this High Court, Justice Vineet Saran, who is like an elder brother to me. When I shifted [to the Supreme Court] in 2019, he made me comfortable in Delhi,” he added.
Above all, he expressed his admiration for other Judges from the Orissa High Court who also had the honour to serve at the Apex Court, i.e. Justice BL Hansaria, Justice GT Nanavati, Justice Radha Charan Patnaik, Justice Deba Priya Mohapatra, Justice PK Ayer Balasubramanyan, Justice Biswanath Agrawal, Justice Arijit Pasayat, Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly, Justice Ananga Kumar Patnaik, Justice V. Gopala Gowda, Justice C. Nagappan, Justice AK Goel and Justice Amitava Roy.
He complimented the Chief Justice and Judges of the High Court for not only felicitating the Judges but also their spouses.
Homage To ‘Utkal Gouraba’
Justice Gavai paid homage to the ‘Grand Old Man’ and the pride of Odisha, Utkal Gouraba Madhusudan Das, a lawyer and social reformer whose birth anniversary [28th April] is celebrated as the ‘Lawyer’s Day’ in Odisha. He said that Das was the pioneer of ‘Odisha movement’ and a staunch supporter of women’s rights.
He highlighted that Madhusudan Das, amongst others, is widely credited for opening the Bar for women advocates in India. It was due to his efforts that the Legal Practitioners (Women) Act, 1923 ultimately removed the disqualification of women from pursuing legal profession.
Praise For CJ Muralidhar & Orissa High Court
He appreciated Chief Justice Muralidhar for carrying forward various initiatives taken by Justice Vineet Saran as the Chief Justice of the High Court.
“His [Justice Muralidhar] contribution to the technological development has been compared by one of my colleagues, Justice Ramasubramanian…he quoted him to be ‘Steve Jobs’ so far as Indian Judiciary is concerned.”
He lastly lauded various unique steps taken by the High Court such as ‘Lawyers of the Year Award’ for young lawyers from district Courts and inauguration of refurbished Museum of Justice.
“The long and celebrated history of the High Court of Orissa was borne on the principles of cooperation between the Bar and the Bench and the shared values on how justice should be made accessible to each and every resident of the State. In the past 75 years, the High Court has rightly come to be regarded as ‘custodian of the Constitution’, having disseminated principles of law and jurisprudence that sought to enrich our citizen’s rights even today,” he said expressing satisfaction over the encouraging history of the Court.