A Chief Justice is first a judge and only then a Chief: Madras High Court's newly sworn in Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee

Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee was sworn in as the 42nd Chief Justice of the Madras High Court this morning.
A Chief Justice is first a judge and only then a Chief: Madras High Court's newly sworn in Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee
Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee

A Chief Justice is only the first among equals, newly elevated Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, Justice Sanjib Banerjee chose to highlight as he took charge of his office this morning.

After he was administered the oath of office at Raj Bhavan, a welcome ceremony was organised at the Madras High Court for Justice Banerjee with addresses by the leaders of the Bar.

"A Chief Justice is first a judge and only then a Chief. I hope I am heard less and read more often, that I am effective without being obtrusive, and that I make every endeavour to fill the unforgiving minute with 60 seconds worth of distance run. Towards such an endeavour, I look forward to your gracious cooperation, particularly from the Bar," Justice Banerjee said in his speech.

He went on to express his admiration for the chartered High Court he now helms, as well as the State of Tamil Nadu.

"I am privileged to have been nurtured in a State that has a deep love of learning, a long legacy of intellectual curiosity and a rich history of literature, music, dance art, and architecture. Today I feel I have come to another home, a land with equally strong traditions, a literary inheritance that is unsurpassed, a music that is distinctive, classical dances that epitomise grace and control, ancient learning and wisdom that I am eager to understand as comprehensively as possible," Chief Justice Banerjee said.

The address saw Chief Justice Banerjee refer to the Japanese concept of Ikigai to describe that he has been fortunate to find a deep sense of satisfaction, fulfillment and purpose in the legal profession.

"Fifteen years ago, I took an oath to serve the Constitution with all sincerity and with all my passion, knowledge and experience. Today I take the same oath. I promise to uphold the Constitution and ensure that the Constitutional promise reaches to the lowest in the country and the State," he assured the gathering.

"Tamil Nadu is my State and I am a servant of the State from now on," Chief Justice Banerjee added, while concluding his address.

The Chief Justice's wide-ranging experience during his years of legal practice across various High Courts, the Company Law Board, the Securities Appellate Tribunal, the Debts Recovery Tribunal and other tribunals and authorities found mention in Advocate General Vijay Narayan's welcome remarks.

The Advocate General added that Chief Justice Banerjee has delivered judgments on a wide variety of subjects, which reflected a strong sense of social justice and a deep sense of Constitutional values.

These judgments were referred to by Chairman of the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, PS Amalraj as well, who went on to apprise the new Chief Justice of the various initiatives undertaken for the benefit of young lawyers in Tamil Nadu such as the introduction of a monthly stipend.

Madras High Court Advocates Association President G Mohanakrishnan, in his welcome address, requested Chief Justice Banerjee to open up courts for physical hearing, while observing that virtual courts are not a substitute for physical hearings.

Madras Bar Association President ARL Sundaresan expressed hope that Chief Justice Banerjee would eventually be elevated to the Supreme Court, while pointing out that the Madras High Court has served as a launching pad to the top court for many judges.

"Keeping your Lordship's age, the sprinter speed your Lordship has shown till now, we are sure that your Lordship will be elevated to the Supreme Court," he remarked.

The Women Lawyers' Association President Louisal Ramesh welcomed the new Chief Justice with words from the Thirukkural on the importance of maintaining impartiality in the administration of justice.

In a brief address, the President of the Law Association also assured the fullest co-operation from the Bar.

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