From CJI Dipak Misra’s donation announcement to Kurian Joseph-led collection drive, the higher judiciary pitches in for the battered state.
New Delhi: All the judges of the Supreme Court have decided to contribute at least Rs 25,000 each towards the Kerala flood relief fund, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said Monday as senior justices look to do their bit for the battered state.
“We are also making some contributions,” CJI Misra told attorney general K.K. Venugopal during the hearing of an unrelated matter.
The top court was deliberating on an issue pertaining to conflict of interest involving the chief justice. A petitioner — the Bharatiya Matdata Sangatha — argued that CJI Misra’s cousin Pinaki Misra, a practicing advocate and a Member of Parliament, has the privilege of voting in the event of a vote on impeachment of a judge in the Parliament.
Taking a strong objection to such insinuations, the bench comprising CJI Misra, along with Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud decided to impose costs. To this, Venugopal suggested that the money could be donated towards the relief fund in Kerala. Senior advocate Shekhar Naphade concurred.
“People have lost their houses. It will take years to rebuild the same. I would say let the fine go towards relief efforts,” Venugopal said.
Incidentally, last week Venugopal chose to express solidarity by donating Rs 1 crore to the Kerala chief minister’s relief fund.
Kerala has been reeling under its worst floods in a century. The death toll in the flood affected state rose over 400 Monday.
Among the scores of volunteers who pitched in to help gather material for the Kerala floods, Justice Kurian Joseph stood apart. The Supreme Court judge, who hails from Kalady – 7 km from Kochi airport — reached the campus of the Indian Law Institute (ILI) in New Delhi at 7 pm Saturday and stayed on till 1:30 am for a collection drive.
Joseph’s family in Kerala has been displaced because of the floods and he hasn’t been able to get in touch with them for the past five days.
“There is no electricity and hence no phones. It is not just my family who is suffering there. Everyone in Kerala is my family. From the general information I have got today, things are in control near my home, but other places are in trouble,” Joseph told ThePrint.
Speaking about his experience, Justice Kurian Joseph said this was the true spirit of India. “The volunteers that were present yesterday came from every walk of life. There were Malayalis, Oriyas, natives of Delhi – they all came to help,” he said.
However, Joseph was not the only one who contributed.
Justice K.M. Joseph, the newly inducted top court judge, sent his staff along with relief materials that was airlifted Sunday.
“Justice Kurian Joseph’s presence at the site was a boost to all our morale,” advocate Sriram Parakkat, one of the volunteers said. Parakkat and his wife Renjini, who have been tirelessly working towards the relief efforts, said the judge worked alongside kids and students and sang Malayalam songs.
“During the six long hours Justice Kurian Joseph spent with us, he oversaw the collection of relief materials, shared his experiences, cracked a joke or two with nearly anyone around him be it younger members of the bar, students of AIIMS, journalists or any of the volunteers. He made people around him forget that he was a Supreme Court judge and made them feel he’s one among them. His presence was instrumental in making the collection drive a success and simply an overwhelming experience that restores humanity in our minds,” added Parakkat.
The collection drive yielded 60 tonnes of material that was packed in eight trucks. The Indian Navy will airlift this material to Kerala.
Advocate P.V. Dinesh, who was also present at ILI collection drive, said this was a great opportunity for the lawyers in Delhi to give back and do their bit.
“Justice Joseph’s presence was a morale booster. He worked with us, and among us. There was no seniority or hierarchy. He was just another human being doing his bit to help. This really energised the young graduates who were there in large numbers,” he said.
Meanwhile, justice Najmi Waziri of the Delhi high court passed an order directing Rs 5 lakh to be paid to the Kerala relief fund.
Kerala High Court Advocates Association Relief Account
SB Account number: 01650010007919
Dhanalaxmi Bank Ltd.,
Bar Council Branch,
IFSC Code DLXB0000165
Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund Account Details
Bank: State Bank of India (SBI)
Account Number: 67319948232
Branch: City Branch, Thiruvananthapuram
Account Type: Savings
SWIFT CODE: SBININBBT08
Name of Donee: Chief Ministers Distress Relief Fund
Address: Govt of Kerala
District: Thiruvananthapuram, State Kerala, Pin 695001