"If Sita had not crossed the Lakshman Rekha, Ravan would not have been killed. Lakshman Rekha is not that sacrosanct. It has a limited purpose."
This is what justice AK Ganguly had said in September last year to blunt the government's argument that the Supreme Court must not cross the 'Lakshman Rekha' by insisting on monitoring the 2G case.
The verdict cancelling 122 2G spectrum licences in a way justified the statement by justice Ganguly, who retired on Thursday after serving the judiciary for 18 years.
"I always tried to play with a straight bat," he said at a function organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association that gave him a warm send off in the presence of Chief Justice of India SH Kapadia, judges, advocates and a huge contingent of media persons.
Referring to former English captain David Crompton's book End Of An Innings, justice Ganguly said: "Similarly, it is an end of my innings as a judge. I don't know how I played my innings but I always tried to play with a straight bat. It is for you to judge how I have played it."
Born on February 3, 1947, Justice Ganguly received his MA in English and LLB degree from Calcutta University. He was appointed a permanent judge of the Calcutta high court on January 10, 1994. He was later transferred to the Orissa high court where he went on to become chief justice on March 2, 2007. Before being elevated to the Supreme Court, Justice Ganguly also served as the chief justice of the Madras high court.
Known for being calm, composed and focussed, the erudite judge had the uncanny ability to puncture the best arguments presented by any senior advocate. "As per my limited understanding of law, I think this is not the correct proposition of law on the subject," justice Ganguly would say before citing some precedents or quoting from judgments delivered by veteran SC judges such as VR Krishna Iyer and PN Bhagawati.
On his last day in office, he was emotional.
"Today, I had mixed feelings in the afternoon when I handed over the robes to my orderly Ashok. I was happy thinking that I don't need to read SLPs this evening. Looking into his eyes, I found that they were a little moist and I was touched by his feelings," he said.
"I have done my duty," justice Ganguly said as he left for his residence.