Just over a year since he retired as a judge of Allahabad High Court, Justice Abhay Thipsay joined the Congress on Tuesday. A former Bombay High Court judge, Thipsay met Congress president Rahul Gandhi and said the meeting was “very good”.
“It is important to stand up to fascist forces, communalism under the garb of aggressive nationalism, scripting false history, loss of scientific temper and constitutional principles should be kept intact. It is impossible to do that single-handedly,” he told The Indian Express. “This is the biggest and the oldest national party, and I felt it was necessary to have a platform.”
While his role in the party is yet to be carved out, Thipsay made it clear that he will not get into electoral politics. “Ambition can be fulfilled by joining the ruling party, and there was enough opportunity to do that,” he said. “But if you believe in something, there can be no compromise.”
Maharashtra Congress president Ashok Chavan confirmed that Thipsay was inducted into the party. In an interview with The Indian Express on February 14, Justice Thipsay, who had ruled on four bail applications in the 2005 Sohrabuddin Shaikh alleged fake encounter case, had pointed out several inconsistencies in the case. He said the Bombay High Court must exercise its powers of revision, even suo motu if necessary, to re-look at the case.
He said that the way several high-profile accused were discharged, the “absurd” inconsistencies in the legal process, signs of witnesses under pressure or threat, evidence of “mischief” – all pointed to the “failure of justice and of the justice delivery system”. Fifteen of 38 accused have been discharged in the case, among them BJP president Amit Shah, then a Gujarat minister, and Gulab Chand Katariya, then Rajasthan Home minister.
Stepping into politics, his motive in making the revelations may now be questioned, Thipsay said. “Some may attribute (motive), others may not like it. You have been impartial throughout but now you are on one side. (The) legal community may say ‘he need not have done that’, but not beyond that,” he said.
Before his elevation to Bombay HC, Justice Thipsay served as a judge of the City Civil and Sessions Court and presided over the Vadodara Best Bakery retrial, a case also transferred to Mumbai from Gujarat. Thipsay is also an internationally-rated chess player and coach.
In February 2006, he convicted nine and acquitted eight accused in the case. Fourteen people were killed when a mob set fire to Best Bakery on March 1, 2002, during the Gujarat riots.