Sunday, October 23, 2016

Life is Full of Surprises

At the end of my judicial career, I was a frustrated; unhappy about my decision in late 1990's for accepting judgeship: teaching 'Information Technology and Intellectual Property Rights for a semester in the Allahabad University did not elevate my spirits.
But joining back the legal profession, starting practice in the Supreme Court reinvigorated me. I met lawyers who had argued their cases in my court, clients whose cases I dealt with. This gave fulfilment and new meaning. Life often throws surprises in unexpected ways. Here is one of them.

न्यायाधीश का कार्यकाल समाप्त करते समय, मैं अपने अन्दर टूूट चुका था; नाखुश था अपने उस निर्णय से कि मैं न्यायाधीश क्यों बना: इलाहाबाद विश्वविदयालय में एक सेमेस्टर 'सुचना प्रौद्योगिकी और बौद्धिक सम्पदा अधिकार' कानून पढ़ाने के बाद भी कुछ नहीं बदला।लेकिन सुप्रीम कोर्ट में, वकालत शुरू करने से सब बदल गया। उन वकीलों से मिलना, जिन्होंने मेरे सामने बहस की, उन मुव्वकिलों से टकराना, जिनके मुकदमें किये - इसने जीवन में नये रंग भरे, लगा जीवन बेकार नहीं हुआ। हर मोड़ पर ज़िन्दगी, नये गुल खिलाती है। उन्ही खुशनुमा अनुभवों में से एक।

Picutre courtesy -  SASTRA University Thanjavur
I often get emails from students to guide them; they often come down to meet me as well. And it was no surprise to get an email in May 2016 from one Amrith Bhargava, a law student, expressing his desire to meet me. He along with his class mate dropped in June. But, I was pleasantly  surprised to find that they were aware of my writings, blog; they even discussed law topics with me, on equal terms. They were from from SASTRA University situate in Thanjavur that I must confess, I had not heard of.

After they left, I went on the web to find out about Thanjavur and I realised that it is new name for Tanjor: the ancient capital of Chola Empire, twelve hundred years ago; an important centre of religion, art, and architecture; and has Chola Temples that are UNESCO World Heritage Monuments―a place I knew well.

It was happy revelation that SASTRA University is situate over 125 acres of land in this city. It is a forward looking university. It believes in renewable solar energy solution to our energy crisis and has 1.25 Megawatt roof top solar power station; a solution many have yet to accept. I know the opposition that I faced when we decided to solar power the Chhattisgarh High Court.

The students invited me to come over to their University and I went there in the last Saturday of September to inaugurate a seminar and deliver a talk in one of the session; greater surprise was awaiting me there: welcome and introduction speech by Amrith. Here he is, in his words.
Welcome And Introduction by Law Student Amrith Bhargava
It is indeed my singular privilege, to introduce before you, one of the greatest judges at the turn of this eventful decade.

Justice Yatindra Singh was born on 9th October, 1952 as the son of Senior Advocate Shri VKS Chaudhary and Smt. Krishna. He passed his High School and Intermediate in First Division and secured his degree in science with distinction from the University of Allahabad in 1970. With a distinguished career in academics, he was awarded national scholarships and took his law degree, joining the Bar in 1973.

During his illustrious career as a lawyer, he appeared in various matters on all sides. He was appointed Additional Advocate General for the State of Uttar Pradesh (before the bifurcation of Uttarakhand) from 1997 – 1999. It was during this time that the momentous midnight judicial drama unfolded when the then Governor of Uttar Pradesh dismissed the Kalyan Singh government on 21st February, 1998. He sums up his experience in this one of a kind matter by saying,
"It was in the beginning of the 20th Century that Holmes had said ‘Great Cases like hard cases make bad law’ (Northern Securities Vs US 193 US 197). But this all changed by the end of the 20th Century. It is no longer true. Ronald Dworkin has modified it to ‘(Great case like) hard cases make great judges'. This case not only proves that but is also is a tribute to the independence and integrity of the Indian Judiciary.” 
This was the only case where a deposed Chief Minister was reinstated. In fact even the 2006 SCC Rameshwar Prasad’s case saw resurrection only after popular election. 

Justice Singh was appointed a Judge of the Allahabad High Court and made permanent on February 5th, 1999. His many judgements on the Bench speak of legal acumen and the sparkle of his rare intellect. In a 2001 case, Neth Singh v Labour Secretary, UP Shaasan, he made this perceptive remark,
“We have workforce. We have judicial officers; well trained for judicial work, but not for court management. It is still dormant and does not appeal to many. We still think that our job is to decide cases and not to manage them. But if we wish to reduce arrears, then this attitude has to change. If one has to cut a tree in eight hours, one does not have to chop it constantly for eight hours. One has to spend time to sharpen one’s axe. It is equally important. But where one can find material for it.”

In West UP Sugar Mill Association v State of U.P, the thicket of adjudication was the sticky question of the state advisory prices for sugarcane, commenting on the impugned G.O, he remarked that 
“It neither takes away nor impairs any vested rights. It also neither creates a new obligation nor imposes any new duty not attached a new disability in respect of past transactions”
In a 2010 judgement, Hafiz Ansari v State of U.P, involving the U.P. Municipalities Act, 1916, he wrote,
 “The courts have evolved different principles to ensure fairness. May it be; the promissory estoppel (or) the legitimate expectation; (or) the principles of natural justice, (or) the Wednesbury principle, (or) any other ground (bad faith, irrelevant consideration, acting under dictation etc). on which judicial review is permissible. These are different tools to ensure that the proceeding and the end result is fair. These tools, (or) principles will (if not already) merge into one- fairness. The World of Physics has yet to find its Theory of Everything (TOE) but the jurisprudence has already found its TOE, its ultimate aim, in fairness. It is on this yardstick that every action is to be judged.”
In another 2010 judgement, Avinash Kumar Jain v State of U.P, involving discriminatory treatment for inter-state stage carriages, there is an exhaustive analysis of the inter-state trade law, ramifications of which are borne out from the oldest Atiabari Tea Company Case judgement right up to the recent 9 Judges Bench Entry Tax matter.

Time flowered and destiny showered honours, when he was elevated as the Chief Justice of the Chattisgarh High Court on 22nd October, 2012. During his stint as Chief Justice, he reformed the administration of the court and revamped its structural makeup. 

On the Bench as Chief Justice, in 2013, in Union of India v Steel Authority of India, he handled the intricate subject of taxes and duties, treating it from the 1943 Atlantix Smoke Shops Case and used the rule, 
“that a rule which is not in terms retrospective, may have retrospective operation because of the retrospective operation of the enactment in respect of which it is made”. 
After more than a decade on the Bench, he finally retired with superannuation on 8th October, 2014. His obsession is justice, justice as fairness, justice as equality, justice as freedom and justice as welfare.

After his retirement, he became a Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Allahabad and taught Information Technology and Intellectual Property Rights. He was later designated as a Senior Advocate by the Supreme Court of India. 

In his various writings spanning trans-disciplinary themes, we are startled at his creativity and method. In dealing with IPRs on the Internet, he wrote with fictional flair,
“We, the muggles, can reach our own fantasy world, riding our Hogwarts’ Express- the Internet. It has its own charms, spells and dangers. One of them is, the IPRs. Before we talk about this danger, a few words about our Hogwarts Express – the Internet and the web”.
He has also related the asymmetries of nature with Sec. 377 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Of charitable disposition, he established the Krishna Virendra Trust which offers scholarships to meritorious students and the destitute. As a humanitarian gesture, he has also adopted four great horned owls and a peacock.

A judge of rare genius and eminence, it is our honour to have him with us for the Seminar on Law in the Age of Information Technology, organised under the aegis of the Continuing Legal Education Centre, SASTRA University that has endeavoured towards constant academic engagement on emerging legal issues in the global world, by organising various forums on the GST, Arbitration and Intellectual Property Law.

May I extend a hearty welcome to the other distinguished speakers, Shri Parthasarathy, Mrs. Hufriz Wadia, and Dr M Mahalakshmi, Deans and Faculty and my student friends from various law schools.
Thank you -
Amrith Bhargava 5th year law student SASTRA University 

I never thought anyone read my judgements, articles so carefully and that too by a student. Thank you Amrith for reinforcing my faith in the bright future of legal system and wish you all luck in life.

#LegalTrek #YatindraSingh 

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