At her farewell, Justice Indu Malhotra chokes with emotion during speech

Justice Malhotra began her final address by saying that she felt blessed to have served as a judge in the Supreme Court, but could soon be seen fighting back tears and reaching for the handkerchief.
Justice Indu Malhotra. (PTI file photo)
Justice Indu Malhotra. (PTI file photo)
Updated on Mar 13, 2021 02:09 AM IST
Copy Link
ByUtkarsh Anand, Hindustan Times, Delhi

upreme Court justice Indu Malhotra, the first woman member of the Bar to be directly appointed as a judge in the top court, could not hold back the tears during her farewell speech on Friday, prompting Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde to cut in.

On her last working day in the apex court, justice Malhotra sat on the bench with the CJI, in accordance with the convention in the top court. Attorney general KK Venugopal, leaders of the Bar, and some other senior lawyers, were present before the bench to bid adieu to her.

Justice Malhotra began her final address by saying that she felt blessed to have served as a judge in the Supreme Court, but was soon overcome by emotions. At this point, the CJI took over to conclude the ceremonial proceedings. “I expect her to complete her speech on some other occasion,” CJI Bobde said.

CJI Bobde recounted an episode when justice Malhotra was a lawyer and had argued before his bench.

“She was arguing in a matter and she wouldn’t stop arguing. I asked my colleague on the bench that we have already understood her points. So, why is she still arguing? I was told that she prepares everything so well that she wouldn’t stop before telling everything,” quipped the CJI.

Justice Bobde shared another personal anecdote when his daughter, lawyer Rukmini Bobde, had opined about an issue, something which he later heard from justice Malhotra in the court.

“My daughter used to often appear with her (justice Malhotra) when she was a lawyer. It was long before I came to this court. One day during our discussion, my daughter came up with a peculiar reason. I listened to her. These days you don’t question anyone but only listen. I also did the same. When we both were judges in this court, one day, justice Malhotra shared the same opinion with me about what my daughter was talking about. I realised what a good role model she is. My daughter was making the same argument she (justice Malhotra) was making,” he said. The CJI did not mention the subject though.

The attorney general began by calling it a “great pity” that excellent judges in the apex court had to retire so quickly. “She could have worked here at least for 10 more years. It is very unfortunate that the judges in this court have to retire at 65,” said the A-G, adding judges must continue at least till the age of 70.

Venugopal also recalled how justice Malhotra was the sole woman judge who dissented from her four male colleagues while deciding the Sabarimala case. Four judges on the SC bench decided in favour of allowing women of all ages to enter the shrine in Kerala but justice Malhotra differed, saying courts should not interfere with the matters of faith until the practices are inherently unconstitutional.

The A-G commended her for “the integrity she showed as a woman judge” in delivering the Sabarimala judgment, and concluded by saying: “We are losing a great judge.”

Senior advocate Vikas Singh, president of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), said that justice Malhotra had been an inspiration for the young members of the Bar, especially for women lawyers. “It (advocacy) has been one of those professions which hasn’t been very kind to the women members. But justice Malhotra has motivated so many young women lawyers as she became the first woman member of the Bar to be directly appointed as a judge in the Supreme Court,” said Singh.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close Story
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Tuesday, December 07, 2021