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Judiciary’s independence must be maintained says outgoing Supreme Court Chief Justice

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New Delhi: In his parting shot, the outgoing Chief Justice of the Supreme Court T.S. Thakur said it was the responsibility of the legal fraternity to uphold the freedom and autonomy of the judiciary in the country.

The chief justice who has been in a running battle with Narendra Modi government at the center also pointed out the most immediate task before the judiciary, solving the thirty million cases pending before different courts across the nation. He said that a lot of these cases were pending due to the poor judge-population ratio and problems of infrastructure afflicting the Indian judiciary.

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While speaking on the occasion he said, “This country can’t progress unless judiciary prepares itself to handle challenges it would face in cases relating to cyber laws and medico legal cases.” Supreme Court Bar Association Vice President Ajit Sinha assured the outgoing Chief Justice: “We will not allow any unjustified entry into judiciary. We as a bar will take a first blow.”

On the last day as the chief justice of the apex court, he said “I will continue to work for upholding the prestige of the sanctum santorum of the Supreme Court.” Chief Justice Thakur, who appeared emotional, said that in his retirement he would be a “spectator, observer and contributor to pay back what the institution has given to him”. Thanking God, his parents, teachers, colleagues and everybody in what he could become in his life, Chief Justice Thakur urged the lawyers to desist from being in the race to be a judge or designated as senior lawyer.

His tenure will be remembered for state vs judiciary fight. Telling the legal eagles to let these recognitions – becoming a judge or designated as senior counsel – “come uninvited”, he said every case was a new challenge for the lawyers and they had to live up to the expectations of their clients. “Why should a lawyer want to be a judge when he is saturated with work?” he asked. “You have to raise yourself to a level where destiny itself beacons you.” He told young lawyers that by taking every case as a challenge and preparing it well would earn them the respect of the bench (judges) and even their opponents.

In the meantime the farewell organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association saw everyone — Chief Justice Thakur, Chief Justice designate Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, SCBA president R.S. Suri, its Vice President Ajit Sinha and Secretary Gaurav Bhati — reciting couplets from Urdu poets. However, it were legendry Urdu poets Allama Iqbal and Mirza Ghalib that dominated the proceedings, with everyone reciting a couplet in praise of the outgoing Chief Justice.

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