There is no greater indication of decay in rule of law than a docile bar, a subservient judiciary and a society with a choked conscience, Supreme Court judge Justice JB Pardiwala said on Thursday.
If there are three prime requisites for the rule of law, they are a strong bar, an independent judiciary and an enlightened public opinion, the judge said.
"The contribution of the Bar towards upholding rule of law can never be underrated.... There can indeed be no greater indication of decay in the rule of law than a docile bar, a subservient judiciary and a society with a choked conscience," the judge opined.
He was speaking at a full-court farewell organised for him by his parent High Court, the Gujarat High Court, on his elevation to the top court.
The judge explained his belief that the two basic functions of a judge, particularly in a vibrant democracy such as India, is to uphold the constitution and rule of law as well as to bridge the gap between law and society.
He then went on the speak about the importance of judges on whom the very existence of a justice delivery system depended.
"Mere laws are not enough, men of character, inspired by high ideals are needed to infuse life and spirit in the skeleton of law," he said.
Justice Pardiwala also said that God alone was the true foundation of justice with judges being called upon to discharge judicial functions as God's agents.
"We are accountable to God for all that we do in the discharge of this function."
He also highlighted the importance of judiciary stating that the worth of a nation is measured by its judiciary, which is seen as the ultimate keeper of its conscience.
"Ours is such a judiciary which ensures to the people of this nation that the freedoms which are theirs under the constitution will never be taken away and that history shall not repeat itself."
The judge further said that while the source of judicial power is law, effective exercise of the judicial power originates from two sources - externally, from public acceptance of the judiciary's authority but more importantly, internally from its integrity.
He also spoke about the role of lawyers' in the justice delivery system as well as his expectations from the bar.
"Lawyers must be and remain crusaders in the field of the rule of law and human rights. That's my appeal to all of you," he stated.
He also expressed his happiness at the zealous spirit he saw in the new generation of lawyers, who said is the hope and future of the country.
"It lies in your young and fierce hands to uphold the integrity of this judiciary and make this nation a better place," the judge signed-off.
[Read our live coverage of the farewell]