New Delhi: Having presided over a slew of important Constitutional cases, outgoing Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra told lawyers and judges in his farewell speech on Monday that the Indian judiciary was one of the most robust such institutions in the world that had stood tall in the face of attacks and troubled times.

“The Supreme Court stands supreme and it will continue so in the time to come. Capacity to build narratives can never guide the course of justice... That is how independence of judiciary is maintained," he said.

Misra was speaking at an event organized by the Supreme Court Bar Association that was attended by fellow judges, the attorney general and members of the bar. He will be succeeded by Ranjan Gogoi who will take oath as Chief Justice on Wednesday.

Misra’s remarks come amid an impasse between the executive and judiciary on judicial appointments. Matters reached a head after four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court, including Gogoi, publicly questioned Misra’s leadership in January. Since then the judiciary has been trying to resolve its problems internally.

Gogoi, too, defended the institution in his remarks, saying it had done well despite odds because of committed judges who worked hard despite low salaries and a relatively early retirement age.

He went on to praise Misra for his contributions to issues relating to civil liberties, gender rights and privacy.

“One thing is to resolve legal disputes where there are answers given in books but its much more challenging when there are no given answers. He has consistently upheld freedom of individuals to choose and express such choice, has supported women rights and spoken against social evils like mob lynching," Gogoi said.

Attorney general K.K. Venugopal highlighted the sheer number of judgements authored by him over the last month and said that he had emerged as a gender warrior. Venugopal also highlighted the issue of the retirement age—65 years—and salaries of judges of the Supreme Court, which he said affected the justice delivery system. “It is not easy to get good judges. There has to be a change with regards to retirement age and salaries should be doubled or tripled. Why should all the talent, wisdom and experience of a retiring judge be wasted?" he remarked.

He suggested that the government and judges have a brain-storming session and chalk out the future of the justice delivery system. If not, access to justice, as a fundamental right, will become a mere mirage, he added.

In his more than 13 months as the country’s top judge, Misra ruled on key constitutional issues such as the challenge to Aadhaar, section 377 (criminalization of homosexuality), adultery law, privacy law, entry of women into the Sabarimala temple, the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid (Ayodhya) dispute, decriminalization of politics, Bhima-Koregaon violence and live-streaming of court proceedings. He has left behind a body of work and landmark progressive judgements, which shall aid in justice for generations ahead.

Close