Justice Kurian Joseph reitres.
Justice Kurian Joseph reitres.

Compassion is not the charity of a judge, but bounden duty, Kurian Joseph J. retires

Shruti Mahajan

Justice Kurian Joseph demitted his office as a Supreme Court Court Judge today.

The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) bid him a farewell at a function held in the Apex Court lawns this evening.

Justice Joseph was greeted by a standing ovation today as he arrived at the jam-packed lawns.

“Nicest Judge”, “good-hearted”, “always smiling” and “compassionate” were just some of the phrases used to describe Justice Joseph.

Attorney General KK Venugopal said that if a poll was held about who was the nicest Judge, Justice Kurian Joseph would be a clear choice.

On taking the dais, Justice Joseph delivered a heartfelt address but gave a disclaimer before beginning that he would not get too emotional. He quipped that his wife told him that he wouldn’t be allowed back home if he got too emotional.

Brothers in Arms: CJI Gogoi, Justice Madan Lokur and Justice Kurian Joesph
Brothers in Arms: CJI Gogoi, Justice Madan Lokur and Justice Kurian Joesph

However, he packed his address with some of his fond memories from his time at the Bar and on the Bench.

Justice Joseph recalled that while everyone supported him in his decision to become a Judge, the only person who objected to it was his wife who told him that he was taking up a “crown of thrones”.

“I told her, I can make it a crown of roses. And I think I have made it a crown of flowers, if not roses”, Justice Joseph said.

“I tried my best to abide by the oath I took and worked to the best of my knowledge. My conscience is clear and I can hold my head high and tell the world that I have done my best,” Joseph J added.

Justice Joseph acknowledged the role played by every person in his life, right from his family members to his colleagues, his helping staff, as well as the over 200 law interns who have worked under him.

In his last public address as a Supreme Court Judge, Justice Joseph also had a word of advice for the members of the Judiciary on Constitutional compassion.

“The Constitution is made for all people – women, children, members of the marginalised community, poor and young.”

“Compassion from the Court is not the charity of a Judge, it is a bounden duty of a Constitutional Judge.”

Adding to this, Justice Joseph also noted that in a diverse country like India, it is the thread of the Constitution that keeps everyone together as proud Indians.

My only appeal to the interpreters of the Constitution is that the diversity of the Country should also be kept in mind while interpreting the Constitution.

Offering his take on the new trend of a high number of Public Interest Litigation petitions coming to Courts, Justice Joseph said that some of these cases in the name of public interest were killing the Court’s time.

“We should concede that those making the laws are also aware of the public interest and they have made laws keeping in mind public interest and Constitutional morality. The lawmakers know the challenges faced by the country and know the pulse of our country.”

Compassion is not the charity of a judge, but bounden duty, Kurian Joseph J. retires

Before concluding his address, Kurian Joseph J. parted with a gentle reminder to his “lawyer friends” that,

“Silence of law-men does more harm to the society than the violence of the laymen.”

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi who presided over the function gave a brief address. He said that even though the two Judges come from two different parts of the country, they have shared a strong bond.

“My brother Kurian and I come from two different parts of the country, Kerala and Assam. He became a Judge in the Kerala High Court and Himachal Pradesh High Court, I was at Gauhati High Court. But when he came to the Supreme court shortly after me, we had a strong association of six years. Thank you, my brother. That’s all I can say.”

CJI Ranjan Gogoi with Justice Kurian Joseph. Attorney General KK Venugopal seated on the far left.
CJI Ranjan Gogoi with Justice Kurian Joseph. Attorney General KK Venugopal seated on the far left.

Justice Joseph’s pleasant persona was praised by AG KK Venugopal, who recalled that it was Justice Joseph who helped solved many matrimonial disputes. Venugopal said that the hand-written note written to Justice Joseph by a ten-year-old child thanking him for resolving the dispute between his warring parents shows “he has had a fulfilled career”.

A common thought shared by both AG Venugopal and SCBA President Vikas Singh was that every lawyer preferred their matters to be listed before Justice Joseph because he always gave everyone a patient hearing with a smile on his face.

Singh called Kurian Joseph J. “an epitome of Bar and Bench relationship” and said that he is probably a role model for every member of the Bar.

“Anybody who has gone to his Court has never had a bitter experience. He has always been extremely polite and was never impatient. Justice Joseph has never had any ego.”

Singh also pointed out that Justice Joseph has delivered 1040 judgments and ranks as one of the top ten Judges of the Supreme Court in terms of the number of judgments delivered.

The welcome address at the function was delivered by the Vice President of the SCBA Sukumar Patjoshi and the event was attended by several Judges of the Supreme Court and Senior members of the Bar.

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