Today is the last day the 45th Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra attended the hearings and presided over the proceedings in courtroom number 1 of the Supreme Court. Monday the 1st of October marks the last day in office for the 13 month career of probably India’s most talked about CJI. Speaking at the farewell function organised in his honour in the SC premises today Dipak Misra said, “Our judiciary has been the strongest judiciary in the world having capability to handle mind boggling number of case,” he went on to add, “History can be sometimes kind, and unkind. I don’t judge people by their history but by their activities, perspective. In my whole career as a judge, I never dissociated myself from the lady of equity.” Dipak Misra has endured a lot in his 13 month long career, from facing charges of corruption levied on him by lawyers such as Prashant Bhushan and Dushyant Dave in November last year to the unprecedented press conference by four senior judges of the SC which ended in an impeachment motion against him, Dipak Misra has seen through all this with a stoic silence. The only time he chose to speak on these matters was on the occasion of Independence Day where his speech subtly hinted at his modus operandi, CJI Misra quoted British poet Lord Tennyson to explain his motto, “strong in will, strive, seek, fight and not yield.” He also went on to add, “When a lot of noise is being made, one must work hard in silence with utmost sincerity and let the work make the noise,” in the same speech.
Dipak Misra became the 45th CJI on the 28th of August 2017 by replacing the 44th CJI Jagdish Singh Khehar after having served as a Justice in the Supreme Court for almost 6 years. Even before being appointed as the CJI, Justice Misra had given enough judgements to make the headlines of the newspapers. A three judge bench headed by him had rejected the plea to stop the execution of the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts convict Yakub Memon, a decision for which he even received a death threat in writing. It was once again a bench headed by Dipak Misra which had upheld the death sentence awarded to the four convicts of the 2012 Delhi gang rape case. Some other notable judgements include settling the 120 year dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka over the Cauvery River.
Sensational and path breaking judgements kept on coming from the outgoing CJI as soon as he assumed the position of the first among equals. Striking down portions of Section 377 which criminalised gay sex, removing the ban on the movie “Padmavaat” which was imposed by several states, or lifting the ban on entry of women in the Sabarimala Temple were some of his decisions which were against the popular sentiment. But the CJI chose to remain steadfast on his track, unmoved, unfazed by the noise which surrounded his every decision. Misra’s tenure saw him fighting against the orthodoxy which had crept in the Indian society; he strived to create the perfect mixture between the old and the new. Probably the most celebrated decision from a bench presided by him came just a week before the date of his retirement in which the SC bench paved the way for creating the Ram Janmabhoomi temple in Ayodhya. While the exact future of the Ram Janmabhoomi temple is yet to be decided but the judgement by the bench headed by Dipak Misra has provided a solid foundation for the fast track court which will give the final judgements on the case.
The attempt to impeach Dipak Misra had been carried out at the behest of Congress which was supported by six other parties. The petition was rejected by Vice President Venkaiah Naidu on the grounds that it would lead to interference with the constitutionally protected independence of the judiciary. It allowed the CJI to continue unhindered in his approach towards changing the judiciary and the country for the better. The landmark decisions by CJI have changed the way this country sees and treats issues such as homosexuality, equality, freedom of speech and respecting the nation. A balanced tenure which has definitely changed the society for the better, CJI Misra will be remembered for his defiant judgements, unperturbed by the burden of minority appeasement or of pleasing the ones in power. Today when he vacates his office, never to return to the chair of the judge in the SC, Dipak Misra deserves all the praise which a honest man with unshaken faith and one who has never shied away from speaking what he thinks is right commands. A happy retired life to the outgoing CJI, and hope he carries his ferocity even after retiring from the post.
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