Justice Kurian Joseph retired from the Supreme Court on Thursday, but not before giving his colleagues some pragmatic advice on dealing with challenges facing the legal system today. "The silence of lawmen has done more harm than the violence of laymen," he said in a likely reference to the law-and-order situation in many parts of the country, but added that he has served in court without showing "fear or favour to anybody".
"The only person who objected to me becoming a lawyer was my wife Ruby -- she said that I was about to wear a crown of thorns," he reminisced about his early days in the legal practice. "But I told her that I will turn it into a crown of flowers, if not roses, and I hope I have done that. I hope my wife agrees too."
The judge said that he was retiring with a "clear conscience". "Nobody can claim perfection, but I can tell the whole world that I have done my best," he said, adding that he would like to stay back in Delhi and act as a mediator or arbitrator for the court.
Justice Joseph also advised his junior colleagues on ways to fulfil their judicial duties in all fairness. "Although India is diverse, it is the Constitution that keeps us together," he said. "Hence, constitutional compassion does not amount to charity of the judge but his duty."
The outgoing judge also said that those engaged in interpreting the law should keep the country's diversity in mind before passing verdicts.
As per custom, Justice Joseph seated himself with Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi in Court Room No 1 along with his family members this morning. Many members of the legal fraternity, including Attorney General KK Venugopal and Supreme Court Bar Association president Vikas Singh, praised the manner in which the outgoing judge had "handled cases with sensitivity and a human touch".
Justice Joseph was the top judge of the Himachal Pradesh High Court before being elevated to the Supreme Court in March 2013.
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