14 March 2021 5:08 AM GMT
"The journey to a successful career at the Bar is a long and adverse one. However it is immensely fulfilling and satisfying in the end of it.", said Justice Indu Malhotra, in her farewell speech on Saturday.Justice Malhotra, the only woman so far to be directly elevated to Supreme Court from the Bar, was speaking at the virtual farewell organised for her by the Supreme Court Young Lawyers...
"The journey to a successful career at the Bar is a long and adverse one. However it is immensely fulfilling and satisfying in the end of it.", said Justice Indu Malhotra, in her farewell speech on Saturday.
Justice Malhotra, the only woman so far to be directly elevated to Supreme Court from the Bar, was speaking at the virtual farewell organised for her by the Supreme Court Young Lawyers Forum. She said that even though she came from a legal background, she did not inherit the practice and worked her way through the profession.
"I have worked my way up and I understand fully that the actual work of preparing drafts,doing research and the ground work, etc is undertaken by Junior Bar.Mr Fali Nariman had once told my friend when we were all starting out, no one has the time to teach you, you have to learn by observing senior counsels and emulate them" She said
Justice Malhotra further said that "Process of learning in legal profession is a continuous one and requires learning on a daily basis. One of the key issues that Junior lawyers should always keep in mind are time and diary management. These are key factors at the Bar."
" I am of the firm belief that young lawyers bring a fresh perspective to the table which helps in evolution of Law and Legal precepts. Its for this reason I encourage each on of you to not accept legal concepts as they are, as legal concepts also go through process of evolution and change through dynamics of time. The sense of what is just, fair, right and reasonable evolves over a period of time and young members of the Bar bring forth temporary issues into realm of law." She said
"The role played by voices against Section 377 comprised of young lawyers who were instrumental in spearheading move of challenging constitutional validity of Section 377 of IPC speaks volumes of efforts put I by this segment of the Bar" She opined.
She added that the legal profession is filled with great uncertainty, and while there may be period filled with lull or where one may not get desired outcome from the Court, one should not let the uncertainties of profession undermine one's confidence
" You have to be focused, persevere and be steadfast in pursuing the profession. I am reminded of Michelle Obama's words who said : The only limit to heights of your achievement is reach of your dreams and how you work hard for them."
" If you put in requisite hardwork you are bound to succeed. I believe in principle of nature that a work well done will regenerate and grow." She opined.
Justice Malhotra shared quotes from one of her favourite books, the autobiography of Justice MC Chawla, which read:
" No one can assure success at Bar to anyone entering the profession, it ultimately depends on the man himself. There is no other profession which demands such patience and perseverance, because as Lord Hewart once said, Life at the Bar is never a bed of roses, its either all bed or no roses. It is where he passing through such a situation he must maintain a stout heart. It is then that he must work and slave in a spirit of single mindedness, it is also the time to learn all that there is to learn about the art of advocacy."
Sharing some suggestions and tips for the young lawyers, Justice Indu Malhotra said that it is important to be professionally dressed.
"One issue I flagged when I was called by women lawyers to Bar room after becoming a Judge, I said Please don't wear fashionable clothes, which you must keep for the evening and not while you are at work. You must be professionally dressed as that is how you will be perceived by your clients, your colleagues, and the Bench." She said
She also added that one must learn to draft in clear and concise manner, the idea is to convey your case as effectively in as simple terms as possible.
"I firmly believe if you are at it, you are bound to succeed. You'll find enormous opportunities to grow and prosper. Discharge your duties as a lawyer with utmost diligence. No brief is small and your are noticed in the Courtroom in all kinds of routine matters both by members of the Bar and the Bench."
While concluding Justice Malhotra thanked Justice Chandrachud for being a great Bench partner to sit with.
"While we were on the Bench on the very first day, there was a case where certain guidelines had to be laid, CJI asked if Justice Chandrachud could do it, and I quicly said why don't you allow me to do it as it is my first day and I really want to write this order. Justice Chandrachud immediately said Indu I am sending you the file, please do it. That was the very first order I wrote. " She said.
Justice Malhotra added "I believe Dr Chandrachud is the epitome of being collegial on the Bench. There was never a matter where he didn't seek my view, he was always encouraging and a great friend. I will cherish memory of sitting with him."
Supreme Court Justice Chandrachud, while speaking at the virtual farewell, said that If he had the power of mandamus, he would have Justice Malhotra continue beyond tomorrow.
"I'm sure, in discharging her functions with high degree of competence, She has served as a powerful symbol for many women in the profession. Her story has undoubtedly made their dreams more reachable and their struggles more bearable." Justice Chandrachud said.
He added that "She has played an instrumental role in mentoring younger women in legal profession. A write up in Live Law yesterday by her law Clerk tells us what a fantastic mentor she has been."
Justice Chandrachud further shared his message to Justice Malhotra on Women's day this year which read " Dear Indu, You are an icon of our times for your unique achievements. I hope your path continues to inspire many including women men and others."
Justice Chandrachud quoted lines from poem that Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, first woman Justice of Human Supreme Court, and said that it captures Justice Malhotra's approach in paving way for others perfectly.
Justice Chandrachud took the oppurtunity to to comment on another important issue. He said "Justice Malhotra's retirement means that Supreme Court now has only one female judge on the Bench. As an institution, I find that this is a deeply worrying fact and must promptly receive serious introspection"
He added that the reason why Justice Malhotra adorned the Bench, was not because she was one of the best women lawyers of her time, it was because she had capacity to become the best Judge of her time, men or women.
"As an institution whose decision shape and impact lives of everyday Indian, we must do better. We must ensure the diversity of our Country find reflection in make up of our Court " he said.
Justice Chandrachud further said that, Intrinsically having a more diverse Judiciary is an end, a goal in itself and worth pursuing in its own sake. Instrumentally, having a more diverse judiciary, ensured diversity of perspectives is fairly considered, instills high degree of public confidence.
"After being on the Bench for 21 years, you tend to lose a connect with society, and I always found that sitting with a colleague who had an immediate connect, a contact with society,it was very valuable to share ideas with Justice Indu when we were deciding cases. She always gave me a real life picture, sometimes a grim portrayal of liberty of liberty, equality, whether it was in context of consumer protection matter, or women victim of gender violence" Justice Chandrachud said
Justice Chandrachud concluded by saying that he hopes that " as we celebrate today, Justice Malhotra's career and accomplishments, we use this opportunity that stories such as hers become more common place and as members of legal fraternity we do our bit to ensure, that it doesn't remain as hard as it was for Justice Malhotra for women to climb upper echelons of our profession. "
ASG Senior Advocate SV Raju, during his address said that there are very few who have had such an impact on law in a short tenure of three years like Justice Indu has had. Her personality is not only illuminating but also versatile.
He added that "It is a day of mixed emotions, a day of sadness because the Ladyship will not adorn the bench of Supreme Court. We will miss the sparkle of jewel in Supreme Court"
He shared that Someone known to Justice Malhotra had once remarked that one thing all should learn for her, is a sense of calm and her way of doing each task in a methodical manner.
" We will all miss you. But we take solace that the mark you have left behind will be a guiding beacon for the generation to come." Sr Adv SV Raju said.
Senior Advocate Vivek Tankha quoted Justice Malhotra's observations in the LGBT case, where she said LGBT persons deserve to unshackled from shadows of being unapprehended felons and history owed an apology to the community for delay in providing redressal. He added that, this is a feeling of good human being.
Describing Justice Indu as a Judge-Statesman, he said that Judges who are statesman-like realise what is contemporary India or contemporary world and sufferings of the people. Such statesman as a Judge had a short tenure.
"We are sorry that she's retiring but I'm sure it only means retirement as a Judge, she still has a career beyond that . A person like her would always have things to do and she would be welcomed in society in so many others ways." SR Adv Tankha said.
Senior Advocate Gurukrishna Kumar during his address, said that according to him, Justice Malhotra is second to none, in intellect, integrity and industry.
He added that "All of us have heard of amount of hardwork that has gone into her career, and she has done this while also authoring text books and speaks volumes about the kind of involvement and commitment She always exhibits and this is reflected in the large number of judgements she has written in such a short tenure. "
He further quoted Justice Malhotra's case in a review case where she had said that ' the philosophy behind a review decision or a review jurisdiction is the acceptance of human fallability'. He added that this reflects Justice Indu's persona and her approach to life and work.
" She has never believed in stereotypes. Her message yesterday that she doesn't believe in tokenism is a clear reflection of her approach in work and life. She has always believed in earning a place by sheer hardwork and merit and that is how she has earned a niche for herself" Kumar said.
Senior Adv Vikas Pahwa while addressing the virtual event said " Our emotions are always the most honest when we say goodbye while parting and when we say hello, when we meet someone.Goodbye and bidding farewell always carries a twinge of sadness and when the person you're bidding farewell to is someone as Justice Malhotra who has endeared all of us, it will never be easy."
He added that the great 19th century women's rights activist Margaret Fuller once wrote ' If you have knowledge let others rights their candles in it'. Justice Malhotra has been that candle that has enlightened us all with her unwavering commitment to rule of law.
"Justice Malhotra will always be remembered for her invaluable contribution to both Bar and the Bench. She may be retiring today, but she has surely left her footprints in the sands of time : I thank her for her exemplary service to the Court. The Great Dalai Lama has said, Share your knowledge, its way to attain immortality. I hope you continue to share your knowledge and continue to aspire future generations" – Sr Adv Vikas Pahwa said.
During the farewell, the President of SC Young Lawyers Forum's President Vivek Bansal said Justice Malhotra has not enlightened everyone with not just depths of the law, but also with the way in intricacies of law have to be tackled.. She never held back in expressing her opinion on various aspects of law and expressed them with conviction, and through her judgements, Justice Malhotra and shown estute understanding of law and her lucide explaination of the same. She has always encouraged young junior members of the Bar.
Justice Indu Malhotra, the first woman Judge to be elevated directly from the Bar and the seventh woman Judge to be appointed at the Supreme Court, is set to retire on March 13, 2021.
Appointed as a Supreme Court Judge on April 27, 2018, Justice Malhotra also holds the distinction of being the second woman to ever be designated a Senior Advocate by the Supreme Court