"It is The Duty Of Judges To Encourage Junior Lawyers In Open Court When They Argue Well": Justice (Rtd.) Sikri

"It is The Duty Of Judges To Encourage Junior Lawyers In Open Court When They Argue Well": Justice (Rtd.) SikriJustice (Rtd) AK Sikri

"It also becomes the duty of a good judge to encourage junior lawyers in open court if he has argued well. Say that they have done their best! That gives a lot encouragement. I got that kind of encouragement I when had entered the profession so I always tried to pass it on"

"To have a robust legal system at the Supreme Court, or even at the district and the High Court levels, we need to have very, very strong young bar", reflected Justice A. K. Sikri on Monday.

The recently-retired judge was speaking at an event organised by the Supreme Court Young Lawyers' Forum to bid him farewell.

"It is the duty of judges and senior lawyers to ensure that the budding lawyers are groomed well because they are the future of the system. I have also been trying to encourage junior lawyers in my court", he continued.

"If a junior is arguing against a designated senior or a law officer, it could be daunting for him. He may in a position to argue but may not be able to because of the lawyer in his opposition. This duty is cast on judges to make the junior feel comfortable as only they can create this atmosphere", observed Justice Sikri.

On their part, he also urged the young lawyers to prepare a brief as if their senior was not going to argue it-

"It is the duty of junior lawyers to prepare briefs well regardless of whether the senior is there. It should not be like you know it will be argued by the senior so you shouldn't know anything about it and you will hear him argue and learn from there. Prepare as if the senior is not going to argue! And that situation may come up. If you want judges to encourage you, it is no use if you simply ask for a pass over"

"Of course if the senior is there and he has asked you to get a pass over, then you can't insist on arguing it by yourself. Like when G. Ramaswamy was the Attorney General, His junior, who was only a few days old, had started arguing a matter before the constitution bench. And then Mr. Ramaswamy came running and he was like, 'What are you doing?!'...", added Justice Sikri to the amusement of the audience.

"We have always read the briefs. We know notice will be issued in a particular case. If a junior then asks for a pass-over, we will still ask him to tell us what the case is. So we feel disappointed when we hear they want a pass over. Seize these opportunities! No judge will dismiss the case, even if it is to be dismissed, in your presence! He will ask you to call the senior so that the blame doesn't come on you. So when we prompt, argue!", he reiterated assuredly.

"It also becomes the duty of a good judge to encourage junior lawyers in open court if he has argued well. Say that they have done their best! That gives a lot encouragement. I got that kind of encouragement I when had entered the profession so I always tried to pass it on"

"What I admire about the young bar is that most of them have been doing what I just asked of them. In many Constitution bench matters or important matters before Division benches and three-judge benches, where the senior is arguing, we would easily find out that it is the juniors sitting with them who have done the entire research, even prepared the written submissions. Good Seniors have acknowledged this at the end of the arguments. Like in the Aadhaar hearing, and several other matters before a Constitution Bench during Chief Justice Dipak Misra's tenure that Justice (D. Y.) Chandrachud and I were mostly part of, we saw seniors give credit to their juniors. So Judges will encourage you and so will your senior lawyers!"

"In Regular cases where the senior doesn't appear, judges would say no to a pass over or adjournment. I have observed on several occasions that even I have practiced in the Supreme Court but in our times, nobody could seek a pass over or an adjournment on any ground other than some casualty or death- an AOR couldn't take the excuse that he engaged 'X' who is not available. In that case, you were expected to either make alternative arrangements or to argue yourself! This culture should come back", signed off Justice Sikri.

In his turn, Justice Chandrachud hailed Justice Sikri for his unrelenting support for dignity for all- "When, after so many years at the bench, judges tend to get desensitised to justice, this Balance Of recognising the realities of our time without forgetting the law sets him apart"

"To ensure that even the underprivileged can lead their lives with dignity has been his legacy. As a judge of the Delhi High Court, Justice Sikri, taking suo motu cognisance on the basis of a letter, directed that juvenile offenders be sent to correctional homes and not lodged in normal prisons...he took up the cause of 15,000 contract and daily-wage workers who were associated with the Commonwealth Games and issued directions to the government to secure them safety equipment, pay and overtime remuneration and tenure...where a department of the Railways had refused to promote an orthopaedically-handicapped person, Justice Sikri observed that it not only was unjust but also aggravated his disability...", recounted Justice Chandrachud.

"At the Supreme Court, noting that the social stigma attached to them impedes their development, he accorded judicial recognition to transgenders as the third gender...There was the Jija Ghosh case, who was forcefully deboarded from a flight for suffering from cerebral palsy. She couldn't participate in a conference where she was to be a speaker. She spoke of how she was escorted off the plane like a criminal and The shame continued to haunt her. In that matter, Justice Sikri espoused the right to dignity of persons with disabilities...In October last year, in view of the alarming air pollution, he said that only the sale of green fireworks may be permitted...Even at his last week at the Supreme Court, he acquitted 6 death-row victims and awarded them compensation of Rs. 5 lakhs each for having been made to live in fear of death since 2009...".

Justice Chandrachud Justice Chandrachud

Regarding Justice Sikri as a "gold standard" for himself as a High Court judge in matters of IPR, arbitration and tax, Justice Chandrachud, on a lighter note, remarked that to be felicitated by the Young Lawyer' Forum, one has to be young at mind which Justice Sikri is- "65 is only a statistic for him, given by the Constitution and his date of birth...one needs to have a sense of vision as to what the society needs today and tomorrow, Which he has in great measure"

"To be honoured by the Young Lawyers' Forum, you have to have qualities which only Justice Sikri, of all the judges at the Supreme Court, has- to run a few rounds at the Lodhi garden as he does each morning, to do Zumba, to bear the occasional fracture of the leg with a smile on his face, or even a fractured rib at the NCC cricket tournament..."

Justice Chandrachud even Narrated a playful conversation among the judges from that morning- "We were saying how we are still sweating over 65 SLPs every Monday and Friday and that Justice Sikri has been relieved of all this reading. But he won't be free from this Monday! Hopefully, he shall have greater opportunities to serve the society of which the Supreme Court was only a blip..."