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Justice Phukan joined the Gauhati High Court Bar after his enrolment. In 1963, he was appointed to the Assam Judicial Services. In 1970, he worked for the Law Department. In 1976, he became the Law Secretary and Legal Remembrancer.
Among other roles, he has served as a part-time Member of the Meghalaya Board of Revenue, Commissioner for departmental enquiries for the State and legal adviser of various corporations of the State Government. He has also worked as a part-time lecturer at the Shillong Law College.
Following his appointment as a permanent judge of the Gauhati High Court, he also served as its Acting Chief Justice. In September 1994, he was transferred to the High Court of Himachal Pradesh, in which court he served as Chief Justice from March 1995. In August 1996, he was transferred once more to the Orissa High Court, where he also served as Chief Justice.
Thereafter, he was elevated as a judge of the Supreme Court in January 1999. He retired in 2002.
Following his retirement, he was appointed to form a Commission to conduct an inquiry into defence contracts entered into during the Kargil War in 2003.
His final rites were reportedly performed on Monday morning at the Tarajan Crematorium, Jorhat, Assam.