Updated: May 20, 2022 11:01:19 pm
Chief Justice of India N V Ramana Friday said Justice L Nageswara Rao’s retirement is a huge loss for the Bench and his keen analytical skills and passion for the cause of justice will be thoroughly missed by all.
Justice Rao is the seventh in the history of the apex court who was elevated directly from the Bar and will retire as an apex court judge on June 7.
Speaking at the farewell function of Justice Rao organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association, Justice Ramana said he has played a vital role in expounding the law and interpreting the constitution.
The CJI said Justice Rao’s journey from an agricultural family in Andhra Pradesh to the top court in the country without any godfather in the profession will inspire many young lawyers and judges.
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“When he started his practice in Delhi, he had no support system to back him up. Through his exceptional skills, he achieved recognition at the national level. He was appointed as the Additional Solicitor General of India for two terms. During those years, he left a mark as one of the most hardworking and dedicated ASGs in the country. As Additional Solicitor General, he argued in several important cases.
“He appeared in the leading case of Hyder Consulting, wherein the Supreme Court interpreted S. 31(7) of the Arbitration Act. He also argued in the famous case of Subramanian Swamy v. Union of India relating to the constitutionality of criminal defamation. He appeared in numerous other high profile cases and he was one of the most sought after advocates in the country,” the CJI said.
The CJI said as a Judge, Justice Rao played a vital role in expounding the law and interpreting the constitution in several noteworthy opinions and has authored several landmark decisions.
“He is one of the founders of the International Arbitration and Mediation Centre, Hyderabad. Under his excellent leadership, I am sure, the Centre will emerge as one of the leading hubs for arbitration and mediation in this part of the world. His proficiency is not limited to the legal field, but also extends to the cricket pitch. He played for his university and also went on to play in the Ranji Trophy tournament in 1982.
“His passion for the sport is one of the reasons why he is so spirited and sharp. He has been the captain of both the lawyer’s cricket team as well as the Judge’s team. Recently, under his captaincy, the Chief Justice of India’s team won for the first time against the lawyers. Brother Nageswara Rao is a fine golf player. He is also an avid biker since his youth. He is very passionate about acting, arts, and music. I am sure he will find time for new adventures, after this break from his hectic schedule as a judge,” the CJI said.
Talking about Justice Rao’s nature, Ramana said he is extremely soft-spoken, both as a lawyer as well as a Judge.
“He certainly is the jewel of the Bar and remained as one of the favourite seniors. Generations of young lawyers should attempt to live up to his example. He strongly believes in giving back to society and leads by example. He left a roaring practice to adorn the Bench to render justice. Not everyone can think of making such a sacrifice.
“His father, Late Lavu Venkateswarlu Garu was an agro-entrepreneur with social consciousness and a commitment to society. It is his ideals that inspired my brother Justice Nageswara Rao to adopt his village and bring in an era of growth and progress,” he said.
Attorney General K K Venugopal praised Justice Rao for accepting the offer of judgeship and said he was one of the few who was ready to let go of all the wealth he’d have made.
“He has delivered 163 judgements and been part of 552 benches. There seems to be nothing that Justice Rao cannot succeed at. Taking judgeship wouldn’t have been an easy decision considering his successful practice. This is a test of the strength of one’s character,” he said.
Supreme Court Bar Association president and senior advocate Vikas Singh said Justice Rao has a diverse personality and is an eminent jurist and true custodian of the constitution.
“65 is no age for a judge to retire and this should increase as the kind of productive years a judge has at 65 is completely wasted asking him to retire at that age,” Singh said.
Senior advocate Pradeep Rai, also the Vice President of SCBA, said not many people know that Justice Rao has acted in many films as a police inspector.
“He has acted in a movie called “Kanoon Apna Apna” with Kader Khan and Sanjay Dutt,” he said.
Various Supreme Court judges and members of the Bar were present at the farewell function.
Justice Rao is retiring on June 7 and Friday is his last working day as the apex court is closing for summer vacations from today.
Justice Rao, hailing from Chirala in Prakasam District of Andhra Pradesh, did his law at Nagarjuna University at Guntur and was enrolled as an advocate in 1982 at the Bar Council of Andhra Pradesh.
After practicing law at Guntur District Court for two years, he shifted to Andhra Pradesh High Court and remained there till December 1994.
From January 1995 to May 2016, he practiced as a lawyer at the Supreme Court and became a senior advocate and then Additional Solicitor General.
He was appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court on May 13, 2016.
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