Biography Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia

“A judge’s judicial function is the spiritual function of a man.” – SH Kapadia, India’s Chief Justice

Hon’ble Justice Sarosh Homi Kapadia was born on 29th September 1947 after 2 weeks of India got independence. He was born in Mumbai- City of dreams. He was India’s 38th Chief Justice and the country’s first CJI born after independence. But the journey of Justice S.H Kapadia was not easy. He didn’t belong to elite family. His father had grown up in a Surat orphanage and was a clerk with low wages. His mother Katy was a homemaker. The family had poor background but that didn’t become barrier for him to accomplish his dreams. In Bombay Parsi Panchayet Felicitation he said that his father taught him not to obligations from anyone and his mother taught him the ethical morality of life. Justice Kapadia in his childhood decided that he will make his life on his own terms and conditions. He wanted to became judge and nothing else.

Justice Kapadia graduated from Government law college (Mumbai) which the oldest college in Asia. He started his career as a law clerk in a lawyer office in Mumbai. He then joined Gagrat and cooperation’s law firm as a law clerk. He joined Bombay High Court on 10th September 1974 as a Advocate. As a junior lawyer he was able to quickly grasp the issues related to land and revenue and took up cases related to this. Justice Kapadia defended the case, which resulted in a landmark ruling that established the notion that governments cannot use summary eviction laws to force individuals out where there is a legitimate title dispute. On 8th October 19991, he was appointed as an additional judge of the Bombay high court and then appointed as permanent judge on 23rd march 1993. He became the chief justice of Uttarakhand high court on 5th August 2003. He was then appointed as a judge of Supreme court on 23rd March 2003. On 12th may 2010 he was appointed as 38th Chief justice of India.

Notable cases

The appointment of a Central Vigilance Commissioner has been revoked.

On March 3, 2011, a three-judge panel led by Justice Kapadia struck down the appointment of P.J. Thomas as Chief Vigilance Commissioner by the High-Power Committee, which included Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Home Minister P. Chidambaram, and Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj (dissenting). The ruling caused the government much embarrassment and forced Manmohan Singh to recognize the mistake in his appointment. While most media pundits applauded the decision, several experts have highlighted worries about a possible miscarriage of justice. Former IAS officer S. M. Murshed believes that “the ratio decidendi of the Hon’ble Supreme Court is a bit difficult to grasp,” because “the entire case against Thomas depended on a solitary, misconceived FIR that was filed as an afterthought and should never have been filed.” Given the facts, Manmohan Singh did no substantive wrong and he did not commit any error (in appointing Thomas).

Dissenting judgement in Lalu Prasad Yadav’s bail cancellation case

Justice Kapadia was part of a three-judge Supreme Court bench that dismissed a petition filed by two NDA leaders seeking to have the bail of Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad and his wife, former Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi, revoked for interfering with the judicial process in the disproportionate assets (DA) and Income Tax cases against them. 

The ruling was in favor of Prasad by a 2:1 margin, although Justice Kapadia dissentingly stated that the income tax agency should have appealed the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) order. On the issue of Judge Munni Lal Paswan’s promotion, he said that while the competence and suitability of two other judges who were promoted to the post of Special Judge alongside Paswan were determined based on annual confidential reports (ACRs) and inspection of the judges’ reports, the criteria were not applied when promoting Paswan, who had been found to be slow in disposing of cases.

Vodafone judgment

The Vodafone decision was one of Justice Kapadia’s most high-profile decisions during his tenure.

Others

On April 30, 2005, Justice Kapadia issued a historic decision in the area of property succession in which he ruled down the idea of a DNA test.

Conclusion

Hon’ble Justice S.H. Kapadia was one of the finest judges and administers India has witnessed. He redefined judgeship. He opined that a judge should aloof from community at large. He should not keep contact with lawyers, political parties, politicians and individuals except it is purely a social occasion. Since he became CJI he worked tirelessly to restore the dignity and ability of the Supreme court. Justice Kapadia didn’t fought cases for money but for social welfare.

Justice Kapadia grew interested in Buddhist and Hindu ideologies, particularly Ramana Maharishi’s, Swami Vivekananda’s, and Ramakrishna Paramahansa’s teachings. At the Math, a monk claims to have learned meditation techniques. He has read everything there is to know about Ramakrishna, as well as what Swami Vivekananda has written.

There are many qualities of Justice Kapadia but his quality of Integrity and Compassion is undisputable. Justice Kapadia has hermetically encased himself in his search of perfect integrity. In a lecture, he even suggested that judges and lawyers work like horses and live like hermits.

Even official invites that fall on a business day are turned down by Justice Kapadia. He once turned down an invitation to represent India at a Commonwealth Law Association conference in Hyderabad since it took place on a business day. He cleared 39 cases in half an hour on his first day as Chief Justice. In his 22 years of career, he hardly took any leave. His first priority was always work. He recalls breaking his leg as a judge on the Bombay High Court, but he was back in court the next day with a plaster. He went to work even on the last day of his life.. He travelled to Mumbai with Justice (Retd) A K Patnaik and others to hear an arbitration case. Justice Patnaik, who was in Delhi at the time, couldn’t believe he’d died. Hon’ble Justice S.H. Kapadia died on 4th January 2016.

Reference:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S._H._Kapadia
  2. https://www.scobserver.in/judges/sh-kapadia/

Image Source: LiveLAw

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