Justice Singhvi, 'crusader against dishonesty', retires

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Justice G.S. Singhvi retires
New Delhi, Dec 11: With his parting judgment that same-gender sex was an offence and there was no constitutional infirmity in Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, Justice G.S.Singhvi Wednesday retired from the apex court.

He served as the Supreme Court judge for over six years.

Justice Singhvi firmly believes in community-based Lok Adalats

Justice Singhvi is credited with delivering a large number of significant judgments, including one cancelling 122 2G licences that had a strong bearing on the government's decision-making and policies. That judgment earned him accolades and brickbats in equal measure.

Besides the 2G case, Justice Singhvi dealt with the Niira Radia case and the Noida land allotment matter.

The government grudgingly accepted the 2G judgment, which even resulted in presidential reference on the mode of allocating natural resources, including those falling under the category of scarce resources.

This reference was rooted in Justice Singhvi holding, in his 2G verdict, that the government could alienate scarce resources only through auction.

Senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi, who appeared before Justice Singhvi in a number of cases representing the who's who of the corporate world, said: "Though I personally do not agree with the judgment (in 2G case)", (Justice Singhvi) "is an honest and upright judge, and has delivered some path-breaking judgments in the field of land acquisition and in matters relating to governance like the 2G case."

Admiring Justice Singhvi as a "painstaking" judge, eminent jurist Fali Nariman compared him with Justice H.R. Khanna who refused to buckle down under the odds of the Emergency of 1975 and upheld the individual's rights and liberties.

"Fortunately the Supreme Court, ever since 1950, has been a towering source of strength as an upholder of the constitution and exponent of constitution except unfortunately during the brief period of internal Emergency," Nariman said.

"But even at that time, we had a judge who would not permit lives and liberties of the citizens to be trampled upon, and he is still remembered even today," said Nariman paying compliments to the judgeship of Justice Singhvi.

His abhorrence for the acts of wrongdoing, particularly by the high and mighty and including those in power and in dominant positions in the social and caste hierarchy, was summed by another senior counsel C.A. Sunderam, who described Justice Singhvi as "a very bold judge who is a virtual crusader against any form of dishonesty and irregularity."

His disconnect with the people trying to throw their weight around and displaying their importance by supporting the state's insignias was apparent in his judgment restricting the use of beacon lights and sirens as he described these people reflective of the "Raj mentality".

Though strongly opposed to dominant caste Khap panchayats, Justice Singhvi firmly believes in community-based Lok Adalats, where matters are resolved amicably to the mutual satisfaction of parties to dispute.

It is no small matter that just four months before he was to demit office, he took the initiative to organise the first ever National Lok Adalat which witnessed resolution of lakhs of cases.

Largely a conservative judge who takes pride in the things of the past and admittedly is not comfortable with modern ways of the present-day world, Justice Singhvi often expressed his reservation with the way the media would go overboard in reporting court proceedings.

A firm believer in "destiny", Justice Singhvi would have been the Chief Justice of India had he been elevated to the top court when he was due for it. But delayed elevation deprived him of that opportunity - and high office.

IANS

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