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On his first day as Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, Justice AP Sahi emphasised on the importance of delivering justice from the heart. Chief Justice Sahi was speaking at the welcome ceremony conducted yesterday at the High Court, following his formal oath-taking ceremony at Raj Bhavan.
“There is no doubt that the Bar is the mother of the Bench. But how do you cultivate yourself? It is your outstanding professional conduct and your efficiency and your delivery and the Bar that improves upon the judgment. But how to educate yourself?“, Chief Justice AP Sahi remarked. He went on to say,
“I will only share with you that it is not only the education of the mind, but what is more important is the education of the heart. And it is here, the role of the Bench steps in. It would be better if justice is delivered from the heart, reason being that law is good – whatever is legal is no doubt just – but justice is better.”
The aspect of social justice featured prominently in Chief Justice Sahi’s address. While welcoming the judge, Advocate General Vijay Narayan had made note that the judgments passed by Justice Sahi during his time on the Bench reflect a strong sense of social justice and deep constitutional values on a wide variety of topics. He added,
“Given your Lordship’s long tenure and vast experience, I can say with utmost confidence, that your lordship would make a significant contribution to the administration of justice while maintaining the great traditions of this hallowed institution.”
During his speech, Chief Justice AP Sahi expressed that he felt like a part of the family at the Madras High Court.
“I was wondering as to whether I will be so welcomed here or not. But I find – people say two is company, three is a crowd – 15,000 is a family. I believe I am in my family.“
Chief Justice Sahi expressed his admiration for the State of Tamil Nadu, observing that
“I have come to a land, a province, that is not only rich in culture and civilisation – not only in the profession of law – but you just imagine the expanse that your soil has contributed to the canvas of civilisation…. And the canvas spreads, if I may say so, from divinity – Thiruvallavur – to infinity, Ramanujan. The profession of law is just one part of it.“
He went on to laud the contributions of the Madras High Court to the field of law, stating that its contribution is unparalleled in the history of this country. Chief Justice Sahi was particularly appreciative of the contributions of Advocate Alladi Krishnaswamy Iyer, given his role in drafting the Indian Constitution. He noted,
“It cannot be described in words (referring to Krishnaswamy Iyer’s contributions). It has laid down … the basic structure. It is something different that the Supreme Court codified it after half a century. But the foundations had been laid long before.
After all, what does a common man aspire for? The common man does not know the rigmaroles or the semantics or the jugglery or even the gymnastic catapults that go on in courts. He only wants – what is known as the highest sense that one aspires for – and that is justice. I think the common man needs it more today than he needed it before.”
He went on to say,
“I am only reminded of a great personality of your Bar…Mr Krishnaswamy Iyer KT. I was unknowingly blessed by his work (on the) professional art of advocacy.. The book was given to me by none else than by Justice JS Varma, former late Chief Justice of India, whom I had the occasion to meet. And I paid my tributes to that great man by getting it published – 500 copies – and distributing it to the lawyers in Patna High Court…”
Chief Justice Sahi’s transfer from the Patna High Court to Madras was notified by the government last month.
Born in January 1959, Justice Sahi obtained his law degree in 1985. He enrolled as an advocate the same year, following which he practiced in the Allahabad High Court, primarily on the cvil and constitutional side. He was elevated as an additional judge of the Allahabad His Court in September 2004, following which he was made a permanent judge in August 2005. In November 2018, he was appointed as Chief Justice of the Patna High Court.
High Court parking and other woes brought to the new Chief Justice’s notice
While welcoming Chief Justice AP Sahi to the High Court, Madras High Court Advocates’ Association (MHAA) Vice President Sudha highlighted certain issues requiring prioritised redressal.
Apart from reiterating a consistent request for enabling the representation of more women on the High Court Bench, the Chief Justice was also urged to redress issues of parking at the High Court. In this regard, Sudha pointed out that lawyers are often constrained to leave their vehicles outside the High Court and by the main road. To address the issue, she suggested that the new Chief Justice consider taking steps to introduce automated, multilevel parking at the High Court.
She also requested that the Chief Justice look into issues of inadequate chambers space for lawyers, financial assistance for a fully digitalised library, and the construction of a new arch at the Aavin gate, which is the biggest entry point for litigants.
She added that she hoped to see that these issues are addressed during Chief Justice Sahi’s tenure and that “another wish list” may be presented later, given the immense growth of the Madras Bar.
The Chief Justice acknowledged these demands during his speech, while also remarking in lighter vein,
“Coming to your ‘wish list’ – somebody asked a lawyer, please ask for three wishes that would be granted. He (lawyer) said, I should have success in life. Alright granted – what is your second wish? He (lawyer) said, I should be comfortable enough and earn a lot of money. Alright granted, but what is your third wish? He (lawyer) said, I should be granted the liberty to ask for more wishes.”
Other speakers at the event included Chairman of the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry PS Amalraj; Madras Bar Association President ARL Sundaresan; President of the Women Lawyers’ Association Louisal Ramesh and Law Association President L Chenkuttuvan.
Former Chief Justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, Justice Paul Vasanthakumar, Allahabad High Court judge, Justice Abdul Moin, Co-Chairman of the Bar Council of India S Prabhakaran, and various law officers of the state also attended the event.