"One could see that this Judge lived and breathed the law", Madras High Court bids farewell to Chief Justice AP Sahi

"One could see that this Judge lived and breathed the law. For Chief Justice Sahi, every case was a voyage, an adventure of learning", Advocate General Vijay Narayan remarked today.
"One could see that this Judge lived and breathed the law", Madras High Court bids farewell to Chief Justice AP Sahi

On his last working day before the Court closes for the December break, the Madras High Court today convened to bid farewell to Chief Justice AP Sahi, who is due to retire at the end of this month.

In his farewell address, Advocate General Vijay Narayan informed that audience that over Chief Justice Sahi's tenure at the Madras High Court, which was a little over a year, he disposed of a total of 1,877 main cases and 2,671 miscellaneous cases.

The statistics, impressive as they may be, do not do justice to the deep engagement Chief Justice Sahi had with lawyers appearing before him, "or the deep sense of satisfaction that he gave to every lawyer in his court", AG Narayan added.

He went on to observe,

"One could see that this Judge lived and breathed the law. For Chief Justice Sahi, every case was a voyage, an adventure of learning. One could almost see the excitement and gleam in his eyes when he discovered a new point... "

Advocate General Vijay Narayan, Madras High Court
Advocate General Vijay Narayan, Madras High Court

AG Narayan also commended Chief Justice Sahi for his administrative efficiency, noting that several matters kept on hold for years, including the designation of senior advocates, were taken up during his tenure at the Madras High Court. Chief Justice Sahi ensured that decisions did not get stuck in red tape, the AG said.

Chief Justice Sahi's tenure also saw the infrastructural creation for 75 new courts and 7 staff quarters and 60 new courts at various levels, the AG noted. Special mention was also made of Chief Justice Sahi's efforts to create a robust infrastructure for virtual hearings during the pandemic.

"I am proud to state that under his leadership, the Madras High Court has been the best performing High Court in the country in these troubled times", Narayan said.

On a more personal note, the Advocate General also remarked,

"I myself have had the opportunity to appear before Chief Justice Sahi... I thoroughly enjoyed every moment in his court. He was extremely courteous to all lawyers and gave equal respect to both juniors and seniors. If a lawyer - whether the juniormost junior or the seniormost senior - was prepared in his brief, Chief Justice Sahi would give a very patient hearing."

Why has the subject of law not been assigned the nobel prize? Chief Justice AP Sahi muses

Chief Justice Sahi's reply to the farewell speech given by AG Narayan today also saw him muse,

"Why has the subject of law not been assigned the nobel prize? We come up with so much of original thoughts, dealings with life itself."

The Chief Justice told the audience that the thought occured to him while on a visit to Sriharikota where he met with various scientists, whom he commended for their devotion to work, their humility and their simplicity.

Chief Justice Sahi opined,

"... subject to correction, I believe that it is the passion of scientists, the absolute devotion to their subject ... that appears to be the reason for Nobel prizes being reserved for them ... Is the legal profession and the legal fraternity today embalmed with such devotion, passion or erudition to entitle them to claim a place amongst the Nobel prize winners?"

Chief Justice Sahi left the question open to discussion. He, however, emphasised that lawyers should emulate the traits of humility and simplicity he witnessed of the scientists at Sriharikota.

Chief Justice AP Sahi, Madras High Court
Chief Justice AP Sahi, Madras High Court

His address saw the Chief Justice also express concern that there is a rising sense of disbelief and inherent hesitation among people when it comes to hire a lawyer. Lawyers, like doctors, are embodiements of faith, he observed. It is in this context that a lawyer's duty is most responsible. In order to dispel disbelief, a disciplined conduct is essential, Chief Justice Sahi said.

While every human being is prejudiced one way or another, lawyers have to shed their prejudices because they have to perform an impartial duty to achieve what is known as justice, Chief Justice Sahi said.

The Chief Justice also advised Junior lawyers that all their actions should be with insight. Referring to the role of senior lawyers, he again recalled the words of ustice Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr, who said,

"The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions."

"One could see that this Judge lived and breathed the law", Madras High Court bids farewell to Chief Justice AP Sahi
To be the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court is a pilgrimage: Chief Justice AP Sahi

He described the Madras Bar as the epitome of excellence, adding that this is not being said as a eulogy but with genuine and sincere appreciation. As for the Judges at the Madras High Court, he noted that they have the capacity to mould every such argument into pragmatic and learned judgments.

While expressing his thanks to several persons, from God, his family, his colleagues throughout his judicial career and his staff, Chief Justice Sahi also made note to commend the Madras High Court registry for its work during the pandemic.

"The entire registry of this High Court has been continuously working round the clock in this pandemic. They made me feel I have the moral responsibility to remain in the High Court. Thank you very much", Chief Justice Sahi said.

His stenographer, Shashi, found a special mention in the Chief Justice's farewell speech. Describing him as the "most able talent of stenography", Chief Justice Sahi thanked Shashi for also having taught him a new English word recently, which he was able to use for an official communication.

Judges were individually thanked, with the Chief Justice also making a special mention of the Madras High Court's women Judges. Chief Justice Sahi remarked,

"My sisters on the Bench - if they have not outclassed my male colleagues - they have certainly established a benchmark by telling the world that female judges, if elevated, will match no less than their male counterparts."

Related Stories

Bar and Bench - Indian Legal news
www.barandbench.com