While speaking at the farewell event organised for retiring Supreme Court Judge Justice Nageswara Rao, the Chief Justice of India NV Ramana on Friday said that Justice Rao was the force behind ensuring that the tribunal structure in India is upheld through his judgement in Madras Bar Association v. Union of India.
We have gathered here to bid farewell to our esteemed colleague, Brother Justice L. Nageswara Rao, as he demits office on 7th of June, 2022.
Justice Rao was born on 08.06.1957 in Prakasam District, Andhra Pradesh.
Justice Nageswara Rao, like me, belongs to an agricultural family and is a first generation lawyer. After graduating with B.Com and B.L. degrees from Nagarjuna University in Guntur, he enrolled with the Andhra Pradesh Bar Council on 29 July, 1982. He began his practice in the District Court of Guntur. Soon after, he started practising before Andhra Pradesh High Court. His excellent advocacy skills and great legal aptitude was soon acknowledged and he was designated as a Senior Advocate by the Andhra Pradesh High Court in December 2000.
When he started his practice to Delhi, he had no support system to back him up. Through his exceptional skills, he achieved recognition at the national level. He was appointed as the Additional Solicitor General of India for two terms.
During those years, he left a mark as one of the most hardworking and dedicated ASGs of the country. As Additional Solicitor General, he argued in several important cases. He appeared in the leading case of Hyder Consulting, wherein the Supreme Court interpreted S. 31(7) of the Arbitration Act. He also argued in the famous case of Subramanian Swamy v. Union of India relating to constitutionality of criminal defamation. He appeared in numerous other high profile cases and he was one of the most sought after advocates in the country.
He was also a member of the Mudgal Committee appointed by the Supreme Court, which probed the allegations of corruption against the BCCI and spot fixing in the IPL.
He was elevated as a Judge of the Supreme Court on 13 May 2016, making him only the seventh person to have the distinction of being elevated directly from the Bar.
As a Judge, Brother Nageswara Rao played a vital role in expounding the law and interpreting the constitution in several noteworthy opinions. He has authored several landmark decisions during his time on the bench. It is a long and distinguished list, so, I will only mention a few.
He was the force behind ensuring that the tribunal structure in India is upheld through his judgement in Madras Bar Association v. Union of India.
He was part of the 7-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court in Krishna Kumar Singh v State of Bihar that held that re-promulgation of ordinances is unconstitutional.
He was also part of the majority opinion of the 7-Judge Bench decision in Abhiram Singh, which held that an appeal in the name of religion, race, caste, community or language is impermissible under the Representation of People Act,1951
He was part of the 5-Judge Bench decision in Jaishri Laxmanrao Patil v Chief Minister, which quashed the reservations for Marathas.
He recently authored the judgement in Jacob Puliyel vs Union Of India, where he held that no individual can be forced to be vaccinated, and that forcing someone would go against the ethos of Article 21.
He also made significant contribution in streamlining criminal trials in the country. He was part of two different Benches which dealt with this subject, and issued various guidelines.
Brother Justice Nageswara Rao's retirement is a huge loss for the Bench. His keen analytical skills and passion for the cause of justice will be thoroughly missed by all of us. The story of his growth in the profession will remain as an inspiration for many young lawyers and judges.
He is one of the founders of the International Arbitration and Mediation Centre, Hyderabad. Under his excellent leadership, I am sure, the Centre will emerge as one of the leading hubs for arbitration and mediation in this part of the world.
His proficiency is not limited to the legal field, but also extends to the cricket pitch. He played for his university and also went on to play in the Ranji Trophy tournament in 1982. His passion for the sport is one of the reasons why he is so spirited and sharp. He has been the captain of both the lawyer's cricket team as well as the Judge's team. Recently, under his captaincy, the Chief Justice of India's team won for the first time against the lawyers. Brother Nageswara Rao is a fine golf player. He is also an avid biker since his youth. He is very passionate about acting, arts and music. I am sure he will find time for new adventures, after this break from his hectic schedule as a judge.
I can speak even more on Brother Nageswara Rao's achievements, but I must also speak about his nature. He is a very quiet man, with a reflective attitude. I have always known him to be extremely soft spoken, both as a lawyer as well as a Judge. His work ethic is very well known to all of you.
He certainly is the jewel of the Bar and remained as one of the favorite seniors. Generations of young lawyers should attempt to live up to his example. He strongly believes in giving back to society and leads by example. He left a roaring practice to adorn the Bench to render justice. Not everyone can think of making such a sacrifice.
His father, Late Lavu Venkateswarlu garu was an agro-entrepreneur with social consciousness and a commitment to society. It is his ideals that inspired my brother Justice Nageswara Rao to adopt his village and bring in an era of growth and progress.
My greetings to revered mother, Nagendramma garu and Madam Siva Kumari garu, who are two strong pillars of support for Brother Justice Nageswara Rao. His adorable daughters Radhika and Deepika have distinguished themselves in their chosen fields and he is extremely proud of them.
I am glad that, finally, he will have enough time to spend with his family and especially with his grandchildren. I wish all of Brother Nageswara Rao's family, the best of health and happiness.
I am sure, my brother will always contribute to the growth of the legal community. On behalf of my colleagues and myself, I wish him a fulfilling post-retirement life, good health, and success in all future endeavors.