Outgoing Chief Justice of India SH Kapadia was given a warm farewell on Friday at the Supreme Court with his successor Justice Altamas Kabir lauding him for his “integrity,” “wisdom” and “self-imposed discipline.”
While agreeing with Justice Kabir’s description of the outgoing CJI, legal experts, however, expressed reservations on many of his public comments. They said he had his own judicial agenda, which he prioritised while on the bench.
Former CJI JS Verma and senior advocate Rajeev Dhawan said Justice Kapadia could have avoided his veiled attack on CAG’s functioning.
“Near to his retirement this was unnecessary while CAG cases were going on. His Vodafone judgment had been foreshadowed by an article and speech he had delivered. Yet he sat on the bench. With a pre-view on the CAG, he should not have tried to apply principles of private accounting to public accountability,” Dhawan said.
Justice Kapadia’s “extra-judicial” comments on the ruling on right to sleep too drew criticism. Justice Verma said his speech bordered around questioning fundamental rights mentioned in the constitution. “It really upset me,” he said.
Justice Verma said: “I had expected him to do more on distributive justice for the greater good of the common man since he had a good opportunity in terms of a reasonable tenure of 28 months.”
“He thought he would sort out the registry but failed to provide a uniform policy. He constituted benches by selection rather than seniority which meant many good senior judges were left out. Most of all he became inaccessible,” Dhawan added.