Justice B Pugalendhi, formerly an Additional Advocate General for the state of Tamil Nadu, was sworn in as an additional judge of the Madras High Court on Tuesday morning.
Chief Justice VK Tahilramani administered the oath of office for Justice Pugalendhi, whose appointment for a two-year term was notified by the Centre last week, following a Supreme Court Collegium resolution passed back in 2013.
Apart from sitting judges and lawyers, retired Madras High Court judges S Rajeswaran and KN Basha JJ were also present for the event.
Justice Pugalendhi obtained his law degree from the Government Law College, Pondicherry. He enrolled in 1990 and practiced in trial Courts until 1993. In 1993, he joined the office of Justice (Retd.) S Rajeswaran, then the standing counsel for the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board. Justice Pugalendhi focused his practice on the criminal side up until 2011, when he was appointed Special Government Pleader. He argued a batch of cases concerning granite mining during this period.
While rendering the welcome address today, Advocate General Vijay Narayan informed the audience during Justice Pugalendhi’s tenure as SGP, the government did not lose a single case in this batch. Justice Pugalendhi is said to have been instrumental in winning 372 such cases.
In 2016, Justice Pugalendhi was appointed an Additional Advocate General at the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court. During the course of his career, Justice Pugalendhi has also appeared before the Supreme Court, various High Courts and consumer forums. He has also compiled a handbook on criminal law, published a book on the Indian Penal Code, and even written short stories and articles about the murder cases he has conducted during his career as a lawyer.
The AG went on to observe that with such vast experience, he was was confident that Justice Pugalendhi would be an asset to the Madras High Court on the Bench.
Representatives of the Madras High Courts Advocates Association (MHAA), the Madras Bar Association (MBA), the Women’s Lawyers’ Association (WLA) and the Law Association also conveyed their good wishes on the occasion.
MHAA President G Mohanakrishnan remarked that Justice Pugalendhi’s elevation was one more feather to the hat of the Madras Bar.
MBA Secretary VR Kamalanathan quoted Thirukural verses on the significance of remaining impartial for the wise, to commemorate the appointment of the judge, who he recounted would always interact with fellow members of the Bar with a trademark smiling face.
While welcoming Justice Pugalendhi’s elevation, WLA President V Nalini expressed hope that efforts would also be made to ensure more representation for women on the Bench. Law Association President Krishnakumar expressed hope that the Court would soon function at its full capacity of 75 judges.
In his reply to the speakers, Justice Pugalendhi made note to thank all the judges who had endorsed his elevation to the Bench right from 2012. He also expressed his gratitude to the members of the Bar for their moral support through the years. As he concluded his address, he told the gathering that he hoped to make all who had recommended him for judgeship feel proud.
“I feel real meaning to my life.. I will use every moment judiciously and meaningfully,” he remarked.
With Justice Pugalendhi taking charge today, the working strength of the Court presently stands at 60 judges. Once Justice Vineet Kothari – whose transfer to the Madras High Court was recently notified – takes charge as the second senior-most judge of the Court, the working strength will increase to 61 judges.