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On the last day in his office Tuesday, outgoing Chief Justice of India T S Thakur underlined the importance of a “fearless judiciary” that, he said, must stand up to fulfil the expectations of the common man and to meet “grave challenges” such as shortage of judges and inclusiveness of Indian society.
Justice Thakur, speaking on the Supreme Court lawns at a farewell function organised by the Bar Association, also appealed to the lawyers to make sure the judiciary remains “independent and fearless”.
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Recalling his 45-year-long journey as a lawyer and then as a judge, the CJI said: “Be assured, I have done the best for this institution that I could…I have played my role. I am now retiring but I will keep praying for its prestige from outside the sanctum sanctorum of the Supreme Court. I will continue praying for judiciary to remain fearless and to do all that common man of this country expects it to do.”
With CJI-designate Justice Khehar on the dais with him, Justice Thakur said that the judiciary has several challenges and should brace for a more difficult time ahead.
“The present has great challenges. You have the challenges of arrears. You have 3 crore cases pending. You have problems of infrastructure. You have the judges’ strength at a very low,” said the judge.
“You will have very serious issues coming up in times not very far from now. You will have issues arising out of cyber laws. You will have challenges of medico-legal cases. You will have issues of genetics. You will have issues of privacy. You will have issues of making India an inclusive society. All these are issues of grave nature,” said Justice Thakur.
He said the country is on the cusp of a great resurgence and is emerging as a super power not only in terms of arms and ammunition but also in terms of economic strength. “But this country cannot progress unless the judiciary also gets ready to handle the challenges that development and progress bring with them,” he said.
He described the role of judges and lawyers as “critical” in making sure there is peace in the society to make developments and progress possible. “My request is to the bar and all those associated with the judicial system, including my brother judges at all levels, that you need to get ready for the challenges in the future…peace in the society is possible only if those associated with the administration of justice and justice-delivery system perform their duties to the fullest,” added the CJI.
Striking many a philosophical note in his 26-minute speech, Justice Thakur invoked Mirza Ghalib and Allama Iqbal to dwell on the bliss of solitude.
“I long to live in utter loneliness, with none to speak to, none to share my thoughts With none to tend to me if I’m sick…none to mourn me if I pass away. Man is a multitude of thoughts…I feel I have company around, when I am most alone,” he recited.