Judges are not monks and work pressure sometimes gets to them as well, Justice L Nageswara Rao, the fifth senior-most judge of the Supreme Court, said on Friday while sharing the ceremonial bench with the CJI on his effectively last working day in the office.
Justice Rao, the seventh in the history of the Supreme Court who was elevated directly from the Bar, termed a "good sojourn" his tenure of over six years as the judge of the top court and fondly recalled his advocacy days as well.
"I have been a member of this Bar for 22 years and it is all your love and affection that have made my job very easy. I had a very smooth ride. Thank you very much."
"Even today I feel that that side (advocates') is much better than this side and given a chance I would be there for my lifetime. Thank you very much. It has been a good sojourn for me. I have learnt from brother and sister judges and I hope that I live up to your expectations because I am from this Bar," he said.
Moved by the well wishes from the members of the Bar and Attorney General KK Venugopal, and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, Justice Rao said that he wanted to apologise if he had hurt the lawyers during the court proceedings by raising his voice.
"If I have been harsh in the court and if I have hurt somebody. I apologise for that. Please understand that the job is such that we have to decide in favour of one person and there would be the other side who would definitely not be happy with what we did.
"And the pressure of work sometimes gets to us because we are not monks. I know that sometimes I have raised my voices a few times at least to drown the voices of lawyers," he said.
Justice Rao said that he would prefer to be a lawyer for his entire life and said, "When I was elevated, I had told Justice Gogoi, with whom I used to sit for a while, that I still think as a lawyer and he said you continue to do that, and that will help you to understand lawyers better."
Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana, who was heading the ceremonial bench, said that he and Justice Rao had started the advocacy practice from the same place in Andhra Pradesh.
"He is a first-generation lawyer. He had no godfather and no support. I wish him and his family all the best. It is a very emotional day, we started our careers together and after some time I will also demit. and He has been strong support for me," Justice Ramana said.
The CJI indicated that Justice Rao would be heading the Hyderabad international arbitration centre after demitting office on June 7.
Justice Ramana CJI said that he was reserving his further comments for the farewell function to be organised by the SCBA in the evening.
Mr Venugopal referred to some important judgements, including the grant of relief to A G Prerarivalan, a convict in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination, rendered by a bench headed by Justice Rao.
The solicitor general said."I have learnt a lot from him as a human being." Justice Rao is retiring on June 7 and Friday is his last working day as the apex court is closing for summer vacations from today.
Justice Rao, hailing from Chirala in Prakasam District of Andhra Pradesh, did his law at Nagarjuna University at Guntur and was enrolled as an advocate in 1982 at the Bar Council of Andhra Pradesh.
After practicing law at Guntur District Court for two years, he shifted to Andhra Pradesh High Court and remained there till December 1994.
From January 1995 to May 2016, he practiced as a lawyer at the Supreme Court and became a senior advocate and then Additional Solicitor General.
He was appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court on May 13, 2016.
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