A sitting judge of Gujarat High Court, Justice Ghanshyam Udhwani (59), died following severe lung infection on Saturday while undergoing treatment for Covid-19 at a private hospital in Ahmedabad.
According to doctors, Justice Udhwani had tested positive for the coronavirus infection on November 19 and was admitted to SAL Hospital in Ahmedabad on November 22. He also had comorbid conditions of hypothyroidism and dyslipidemia (abnormal levels of bad lipids such as cholesterol). The final cause of death was due to respiratory failure and lung inflammation or bilateral pneumonitis, doctors said.
A critical intensivist at the SAL Hospital, who was a part of the team of doctors treating Justice Udhwani, said at the time of his admission a high-resolution computerised tomography (HRCT) had indicated infection in 70 per cent of his lung and so he was started on Remdesivir (an antiviral medication) and steroids.
“On November 27, the markers indicating blood clotting (C-reactive protein and D-Dimer) worsened and he was administered Tocilizumab. Since the last four to five days, he was on high-flow nasal cannulae. Even with 100 per cent oxygen support, his oxygen saturation level ranged between 85-95 per cent.
He also had persistently low blood pressure. He was shifted to invasive ventilation on December 4,” the doctor said. Around 7 am on Saturday, Justice Udhwani suffered a cardiac arrest and at 7.40 am he was declared dead, the doctor added.
Justice Udhwani was elevated to the Gujarat High Court as an additional judge in November 2012 and confirmed as a permanent judge two years later in July 2014. In a career spanning three decades, he had presided over several matters as a part of the division bench. He was also a part of the division bench headed by Justice Anant Dave, that commuted the death penalty awarded to the 11 convicts of the 2002 Sabarmati train carnage to a life sentence in 2017. Retired Justice Dave passed away earlier in October this year.
On Saturday, the Gujarat High Court Advocates Association (GHAA) president Yatin Oza expressed his “profound grief and sorrow”, over Justice Udhwani’s demise. A full-court condolence meet will be held on Monday at 11 am through video conference, a notice from the Gujarat HC registrar in-charge stated.
Gujarat high court senior advocate Asim Pandya said, Justice Udhwani was a son of a saree wholesaler, who had started from a “very humble background” without any godfather in the legal profession, and worked his way up. “When I joined the chamber of senior advocate KG Vakharia in 1989, (Justice Ghanshyam) Udhwani had already established himself as a competent junior in our office. Our senior, Mr Vakharia, would give us the example of Udhwani for his hard work and sincerity and would ask us to try to emulate his qualities,” Pandya said in a written tribute.
In 1997, Justice Udhwani was appointed as a judge in the Ahmedabad City Civil Court and was subsequently appointed as an additional judge of a special POTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act) court in 2003. He was appointed as registrar of the legal arm of the Gujarat HC in 2004 and was then repatriated as a judge at Ahmedabad City Civil Court in 2007.
In 2010, he was appointed the registrar of the infrastructure and information technology wing of the high court. He took over as the in-charge registrar general and subsequently also served as the registrar general until 2012.
Justice Udhwani is survived by his wife Madhuri and two sons. His elder son is a practising advocate at the Gujarat HC.
During a court hearing on November 27, Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court Vikram Nath stated an antigen test drive conducted at the HC premises prior to reopening post-Diwali vacations had found at least 40 court employees positive for the virus. According to GHAA, a 51-year old sitting judge of the Gujarat HC, who tested positive for Covid-19 recently, is currently under home isolation. Two other sitting judges of the high court, who had tested positive in November, are also recuperating at home.
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