Maximum justice

maxresdefaultJustice Rohinton Fali Nariman is a committed daily walker. But his 17-month record of delivering judgements shows that he is a long-distance runner. Even by the standards of the remarkable legal talent abound in India’s apex court, Justice Nariman is an exception.

In this short span, he has delivered 253 judgements, which includes scrapping of Section 66A of the IT Act, a vague web of regulations that could invite imprisonment for as much as liking a dissenting Facebook post.

Delivering judgements at this pace means a lot when the judiciary is reeling under a huge pressure of pendency.

After Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, Justice Kurian Joseph has disposed of 232 cases, followed by Justice Anil Dave at 167 rulings in 17 months’ time. However, if we compare the data available for the period from January 1, 2015 to January 1, 2016, Justice Dave leads the way with 125 judgements passed, followed by Justice Nariman and Justice Adarsh Goel with 110 rulings. Despite so much administrative pressure, CJI T S Thakur has delivered 124 judgements so far.

In 1993, when Nariman was to be designated as a senior advocate at the Supreme Court, the then Chief Justice M N Venkatachaliah had to amend the rules that set the minimum age at 45 years. Nariman was only 37.

In 2013, only 18 months after he was appointed Solicitor General, Nariman swiftly quit as the government’s second most senior legal officer, following a series of disagreements with the then law minister. The straight-speaking lawyer and son of legal luminary Fali Sam Nariman possesses a mercurial temper and a weakness for classical Western music. Nariman is also an ordained Parsi priest from the Bandra Agiary in Mumbai.

His appointment as the Supreme Court Judge was also unprecedented as it is rare that the collegium picks a solicitor general for elevation as Judge.

Justice Nariman, who left his booming law practice to be a Supreme Court judge on July 7, 2014, is known for his expertise in Constitutional, Corporate and Civil Law.

Justice Dave, who hails from Gujarat, is the senior most judge after Justice Thakur and will retire in November. He was the one who delivered the controversial National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for admissions to MBBS and BDS courses. He is also reconsidering the review petition filed on criminalising homosexuality and triple talaq plea filed by Muslim women.

Justice Nariman is also heading the three-member panel set up by Vice-President and Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari to probe the grounds on which 58 Upper House members had sought to impeach Justice S K Gangele of the Madhya Pradesh High Court for alleged sexual harassment of a woman judge in Gwalior. Justice Nariman also set the new rules in place for hearing the appeals in the death penalty cases and allowed open hearing of such appeals as it involves fundamental right of the convict to name a few.

He will retire in August 2021.

Published on New Indian Express