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Judges call to laud me, I ask them to take a stand too: Justice Chelameswar

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Outgoing SC judge stands by decision to call January 12 press conference, stresses he has nothing personal against anyone. 

New Delhi: Outgoing Supreme Court judge, Justice Jasti Chelameswar, said he had exhorted a number of former judges to speak up on “issues that are wrong.”

“When former judges call me to tell me they admire me, I ask them to also speak up. If you know something is wrong, you have to question it,” Chelameswar said while speaking at an event held Friday to mark the end of his tenure in the top court.

“What really troubled me was that former judges of the Supreme Court and high courts called me and said, ‘we wish you more strength’,” he said. “However, I tell them you must also speak up,” he added.

The 65-year-old, whose last working day as a Supreme Court judge was on 18 May, stood by his decision to call a press conference on 12 January this year.

“Where is the law that says judges cannot hold press conferences? They shouldn’t do it to defend their judgments…I knew that when I opened my mouth, I would have to go through all this and I was willing to take it,” he said on his decision to hold the press conference along with three other senior judges.

The retiring judge also said that in the past six months, people had come up to him and backed the stand he had taken. “I stood up for certain issues and values. Wherever I perceived that things were going wrong, I stood up, I raised questions,” he said.

He further stressed that he had nothing personal against anyone in the system. “If something is good it is to be preserved, if something is doubtful it is to be checked and rectified and if something is bad then it is to be destroyed,” he added.

At the event, Chelameswar appreciated the support of junior lawyers in the bar, whereas, he said, it was the established and senior lawyers who had attacked him. “They (the seniors and eminent jurists) hardly open their mouth or hardly take a stand. While I don’t like to offend anyone but I wonder about the one-crore a day lawyers… When was the last time they opened their mouth (to question the wrong in society)?” he said.

Though Chelameswar officially retires on 22 June, Friday was his last working day as the apex court has broken for summer holidays.

Please read the full text of the speech here.

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  1. Utter Rubbish if judges air their prejudices in this way we are bound to lose the highest institution of democracy

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