Justice SL Bhayana, who courted controversy by acquitting Manu Sharma and all the accused in the Jessica Lall murder case as an additional sessions judge in 2006, retired as a Delhi High Court judge on Friday.
During a farewell given to him by a full court (attended by all 43 judges of the court), he admitted his tenure as a judge “was not smooth”.
“My tenure as a judge was not a smooth sailing but a roller coaster ride”, said 62-year-old Bhayana. He was appointed as an additional Judge of the Delhi high court on February 28, 2006, a week after the controversial judgment. The acquittals were overturned by the high court, which awarded life sentence to Manu Sharma . It was then upheld by the Supreme Court last year.
Soon after the public outrage over the acquittals, then President APJ Abdul Kalam had asked the government to reconsider Bhayana’s confirmation as a regular judge of the Delhi high court.
After joining the Delhi Higher Judicial Service, Bhayana held various responsible positions. He was appointed as Special judge (murder court) on the orders of the Supreme Court of India in 1994, where he successfully decided about 120 murder cases in a year.