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The Supreme Court today bid farewell to Justice RK Agrawal who served as a Supreme Court judge for a little over four years.
Justice Agrawal graduated in law from Allahabad University and enrolled as an Advocate in 1976. Justice Agrawal was elevated as a permanent judge of the Allahabad High Court in 1999.
He took charge as the Acting Chief Justice of the Madras High Court in February 2013 and ten months later, assumed the office of Chief Justice of Madras High Court. Justice Agrawal was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court in February 2014 and served on the Bench of the Supreme Court for four years.
The Supreme Court Bar Association held a farewell function in the Supreme Court lawns today to bid adieu to the judge. The Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra presided over the event and also delivered a farewell speech for Justice Agrawal.
The farewell function saw a large number of people in attendance including members from the Bar and the Bench. Several of the sitting Supreme Court judges were also present at the event.
CJI Misra expressed his thoughts about Justice Agrawal and noted that Justice Agrawal is a “silently powerful” judge and said that one of the lessons the members of the Bar can learn from Justice Agrawal is that “silence is an eloquent argument”. CJI Misra also called Justice Agrawal “a man of focus” and told the members of the Bar to take inspiration from the retiring judge.
Misra J. said that Justice Agrawal is retiring from only one assignment but went on to say that if the Bar wishes, they can give him another five years. He said,
“Justice Agrawal is your wise man and you can’t summon him, you’ve to go to him. But, collectively when the bar summons him, he is bound to come because that tantamounts to a request. And therefore, we always respect the bar… Your request is our command”
Justice Agrawal also shared his parting thoughts at the event and thanked all the members of the Bar and the Bench “for sharing the toil of justice” with him. Reminiscing his time in the legal system, Justice Agrawal said,
“As I reflect upon four decades spent by me at the Bar and on the Bench at different levels, if my humble efforts have, at any degree, contributed to the preservation of justice, I believe I too, have been rewarded with honour and confidence you all have instilled in me.”
Justice Agrawal said that the “Bar and Bench are two sides of the same coin” and highlighted the shared responsibility of both the institutions in upholding the legal values and justice. He said,
“Both (Bar and Bench) are indispensable to our free society. The independence of judiciary is one of the pillars of democracy and the lawyers have worked hard for maintaining this democracy. The freedom of the bar presupposes the independence of the judiciary… Both the bar and bench, though independent, are interconnected and incomplete without each other”
Justice Agrawal also spoke about the next generation of lawyers and called the young lawyers “the oxygen of the legal environment” and emphasised on the need for giving this next generation “a level playing field of fair opportunities”. Only if the young lawyers are given more opportunities will they be able to shoulder bigger responsibilities, he said.
Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and the Supreme Court Bar Association President Vikas Singh also spoke at the event.