The Madras High Court today welcomed another judge to its fold with the swearing in of Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy. The Central government had notified the appointment of Justice Ramamoorthy as an Additional Judge of the High Court for a two-year term earlier this week.
Chief Justice VK Tahilramani administered the oath of office to Justice Ramamoorthy this morning in the presence of the Bar and the Bench of the High Court. While rendering the welcome address on the occasion, Advocate General Vijay Narayan informed the gathering of the wide-ranging experience that Justice Ramamoorthy brings with him.
Justice Ramamoorthy was born on October 2, 1966. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree in law from the Madras Law College in 1990. He enrolled as an advocate in November of the same year. In 1992, he obtained his Master’s law degree in Constitutional and International law from the Madras Law College. He was also awarded a junior research fellowship in law by the University Grants Commission.
In 1993, he joined the chambers of Senior Counsel Arvind Datar. Ramamoorthy’s areas of work during this time included mining law, amalgamations, and oppression and mismanagement petitions under the Companies Act, suits, writ petitions and arbitration.
Notably, Justice Ramamoorthy is the third judge in recent times to have previously worked in Datar’s Chambers. Justice C Saravanan and Justice Krishnan Ramasamy, sworn in as additional judges in June 2018, were also attached to the office of Arvind Datar during their years of practice.
Ramamoorthy continued working in Datar’s chambers until 1998. In 2001, he joined Dua Associates as a Partner. He headed its Chennai office until his elevation to the Bench. He has also acted as counsel for many public sector undertakings and multinational companies.
Given the breadth of his experience, AG Narayan went on to remark,
“I am sure that he will be an asset to the Madras High Court. I can say with utmost confidence that his Lordship would make a significant contribution to the cause of administration of justice by maintaining the traditions of this hallowed institution.“
Felicitations for Justice Ramamoorthy’s elevation to the High Court were also made by Vice-President of the Madras High Court Advocates Association Sudha, Secretary of the Madras Bar Association VR Kamalanathan, President of the Women’s Lawyer Association V Nalini and President of the Law Association L Senguttuvan.
“I have often asked myself as to why I want to be a judge and the famous words of Blaise Pascal come to mind, when he said, ‘the heart has its reason which reason does not know of'”, said the newly sworn-in Justice Ramamoorthy.
He went on to inform the gathering that the inspiration to become a judge stemmed from the services offered by his parents as government doctors. He said,
“The wonderful work that they did and the great joy they derived from it… as lawyers, the closest equivalent that I can think of to that kind and quality of service is in judicial service. I can safely assume that in addition to their blessings, they would also share tears of joy and pride today.“
Justice Ramamoorthy also expressed his thanks to several lawyers, whom he remarked, had played a significant role in shaping his own legal career. Foremost in the list was his Senior, Arvind Datar. On his experience with Datar, Justice Ramamoorthy recounted,
“As a first-generation lawyer, trying to find my feet in the profession, I distinctly remember an incident in my first year in his office. We were preparing appeals against orders affirming arbitral awards in high stakes arbitration. Mr Datar was juggling multiple assignments that involved travel outside Chennai… I was tasked with preparing the appeals.
We had briefed a very well known senior counsel from the Supreme Court. And after the admissions hearing, he introduced me to the senior counsel, [saying] I played the lead role in the preparation of the appeals.
I felt ten feet tall and ready to fly.“
Another anecdote was with reference to Senior Advocate G Masilamani.
“In my first year of independent practice, he [Masilamani] referred a then very large well-known group of companies to me. He noticed and allayed the scepticism of the client by referring to me, albeit hyperbolically, as a pandit in company law.
This time, I was vertiginous, metaphorically speaking.“
Special mention was also made of CR Dua, founder of Dua Associates. Justice Ramamoorthy said,
“… after eighteen years at the firm, I called to tell him that my appointment as a judge was close at hand. He said that he is happy for me because he knows that it is what I want. But if I don’t like it, I would be welcome back with open arms because it’s my home.
Need I say more?“
He also expressed his gratitude to Senior Advocates MS Krishnan, Karthick, Sriram Panchu and MK Kabir for their steady support through a prortracted appointment process.
Justice Ramamoorthy concluded his speech on a hopeful note, observing,
“Many questions but no answers go through my mind as I participate in these rites of passage.
How does a lawyer with exposure to limited areas of the law deal with and decide a mind-boggling array of subjects? What are the dynamics between the law, equity and justice? How objective and neutral can a human being really be? With no ready answers in these cynical times, I turn to the wise counsel of Justice Albie Sachs when he wrote,
‘To those who would trivialise the judicial process, representing it as a flabby, subjective response, dressed up in the forms, guise of objectivity, I offer the following;
[W]hile one should always be sceptical about the law’s pretensions, one should never be cynical about the law’s possibilities’
Please keep the faith.“
With Justice Ramamoorthy’s addition, the working strength of the Madras High Court presently stands at 60 judges as against a sanctioned strength of 75 judges. However, with the Collegium reiterating the proposal to transfer Justice MV Muralidharan to the Manipur High Court, the strength may fall back to 59 judges.