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Compassion Isn't a Judge's Charity But His Duty: Justice Kurian Joseph Hangs up his Boots

Attorney General KK Venugopal called him the "nicest judge" while senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi urged the Chief Justice of India to replace him with a judge who has the "same pleasant smile".

Utkarsh Anand | CNN-News18

Updated:November 29, 2018, 6:00 PM IST
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Compassion Isn't a Judge's Charity But His Duty: Justice Kurian Joseph Hangs up his Boots
File photo of Justice Kurian Joseph. (PTI)
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New Delhi: "Life is worthwhile with a smile." This is how Justice Kurian Joseph ended his over five-year long journey as a judge in the Supreme Court.

Attorney General KK Venugopal called him the "nicest judge" while senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi urged the Chief Justice of India to replace him with a judge who has the "same pleasant smile". Senior advocate Vikas Singh gave him the credit of being the "most popular judge" of recent times.

One doesn't get to hear these adjectives for a judge, who is usually measured only by his skills of adjudicating the case present before him.

But you wouldn't normally have a judge written a 'Thank you' note from a ten-year-old boy, who was helped in coming out of a chaos his parents had created by their incessant fights.

letter

Justice Joseph has had a colourful tenure in the top court. A judge, who broke the stereotypes, and felt completely comfortable in his dual role as a judge and as a person.

He didn't think twice to go out and seek help at midnight when Kerala and Tamil Nadu faced natural calamities. The Supreme Court judge was seen packing flood relief materials, visiting lawyers in the bar rooms for assistance, with a courteous smile and a soft voice.

But this soft voice was a firm dissent when the unprecedented press conference in January took place. Justice Joseph sat beside the three other most senior judges of the top court to bring to light issues regarding administration by the then Chief Justice of India.

His was again a voice of steel when the judge warned the then CJI that "dignity, honour and respect of this institution is going down day by day" because of the judiciary's inability to get judges appointed.

However, when you entered his court room, a judge with a perpetual smile willing to give you a patient hearing waited, who would never lose his temper, would never reprimand lawyers and will not hesitate to give personal hearing to litigants if they so wished. All that mattered in his court room was justice and equity not just legal adjudication.

His compassionate approach healed many hearts; of men, women and especially children. As many as 26 senior lawyers were appointed as amicus curiae by Justice Joseph in his 'court-assisted' settlement of marital disputes, most of which were concluded successfully.

One would very often see Justice Joseph interacting with warring couples, children torn between their parents, to arrive at a solution which would lead all of them to peace and happiness — either by being together or by separating.

In all of this, the judge made sure the children get protected the most and there were instances when Justice Joseph directed that kids will stay in residential boarding schools because that was in their best interest.

It was this approach of quick and equitable justice that made Justice Joseph go down in the history with the distinction of being part of more than 1000 judgments, out of which he authored 840. Compassion is what he professed and what he practiced.

Speaking at the farewell function organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association in the evening, Justice Joseph asserted that compassion is not a charity for a judge but a constitutional duty.

"I go from here with my head held high. I have my conscience clear," said Justice Joseph, hanging up his boots.

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| Edited by: Ashutosh Tripathi
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