Justice Rabindranath Samanta
Justice Rabindranath SamantaSource: Calcutta High Court YouTube Channel

Independence of judiciary depends upon independence of bar: Justice Rabindranath Samanta of Calcutta High Court retires

The farewell address also saw Justice Samanta recounting anecdotes from his judicial career, including how he was able to aid an old man and a boy who he found waiting in court long after regular working hours were over.

Justice Rabindranath Samanta of the Calcutta High Court demitted office on Friday.

In his farewell address, the judge said that independence of the judiciary depends upon the independence and fairness of the bar, while praising the Calcutta bar's erudite lawyers.

"Independence and fairness of the judiciary will be dependent upon an independent, fair, bar. I hope and believe that the flag of independence and justice will flutter with the assistance of a good bar that is rendering assistance to the benches," he said.

He also said that he was fortunate to have served the people of the country, whom he likened to living gods.

The farewell event hosted by the Calcutta High Court on Friday afternoon, saw the presence of the High Court's Chief Justice, other judges and members of the bar.

"If anybody asked me what is your feeling and experience of being associated with the judiciary for the last 35 years, must I say that I am proud that I belong to the judiciary? Must I say that by God's grace, I got privilege to serve the people of my country? ... As a member of the judiciary, both the district judiciary and the higher judiciary, indeed I am fortunate that I could serve the people as the living gods," Justice Samanta said.

The judge said that he drew inspiration from the advice given by spiritual leader, Ramakrishna Paramahansa, that the object of life is to realise God.

"How it is to be achieved? He gives us the practical solution - serve people as the living Gods," Justice Samanta added.

He went on to recall that a similar doctrine was adopted in the Supreme Court's landmark ruling in Olga Tellis v. Bombay Municipal Corporation wherein the top court intervened against the overnight eviction of hapless pavement dwellers.

"The Supreme Court observed, 'God smiles in the smile of the poor'," Justice Samanta pointed out.

Justice Samanta further spoke about the importance of the judiciary in protecting the poorest of the poor, adding that he has experienced immense happiness after giving relief to such people.

He recalled that, as a sessions judge, he was able to dispose of matters involving people who were involved in clashes that took place during the greater Cooch Behar movement. The people before the Court had been in jail for a decade and sought justice, he recounted.

"I requested the counsel for both sides. I worked hard and I disposed of the matter. It gave me tremendous happiness and peace in mind," the judge said.

In another case, Justice Samanta recounted how he chanced upon an old man and a boy who used to remain in court, long after the regular working hours were over.

"The district judge of Alipore would have to work hard, upto 6 PM or 6.30 PM. One day, I found that an old man with a small boy were waiting at about 6 PM.

I asked them, 'Why are you waiting for that empty court?'

'I am waiting since morning, because I have one case. This boy has none, he has lost his parents. I have come here for the appointment of a guardian. I am waiting since morning', (the old man said).

I asked, 'Please call your lawyer.'

Lawyer came, I took evidence, disposed of the matter and appointed guardian. It gave me immense satisfaction," Justice Samanta said.

The judge added that as a High Court judge, he found that many reliefs can be granted to hapless, neglected and tortured persons if the judge has a creative and innovative mind.

He also commended the lawyers of the Calcutta bar for the rich, erudite and creative assistance being rendered to the High Court bench.

"Whatever I have done, whatever I have delivered is because of their assistance. Sometimes I think, they are the painter. When they are arguing, they are drawing a picture before the Court," he said.

He concluded his address by narrating a Bengali poem he had authored on the occasion of the Calcutta High Court's 150th year celebrations.

Justice Samanta entered judicial service in 1987 and has served in various capacities, including as a Judicial Magistrate, as Metropolitan Magistrate, Civil Judge (Senior Division), District and Sessions Judge, and Chief Judge of the City Civil Court, Calcutta. Prior to his elevation to the High Court bench, he served as a Registrar of the High Court. He was appointed a High Court judge in 2021.

Advocate General SN Mookherjee remarked that though Justice Samanta's tenure at the High Court was short, his contribution was immense.

The Deputy Solicitor General remarked that considering Justice Samanta's contribution to the field of literary work, his retirement from the Court would now mean that others may get to enjoy his creative and poetic works.

"I can happily say that while delivering judgments, after arguing cases, we always felt that my Lord's justice was always poetic justice because it is justice which is rendered by a poet," he remarked.

The Secretary of Bar Library Club, the Secretary of the Bar Association and the President of Incorporated Law Society also spoke on the occasion.

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