New Delhi: On the day of his retirement, Supreme Court Justice Arun Mishra said he dealt with every case with his conscience, and implored not to give “colour” to his judgments.
Justice Mishra sat on a bench led by Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde, according to convention. The bench had assembled in courtroom number one — the CJI’s court — in the Supreme Court building.
“My judgments may be analysed but don’t give this colour or that colour to them,” he said during the virtual send-off given to him after the CJI-led bench finished hearing cases listed for the day.
CJI Bobde described Mishra as a “beacon of courage”, one who was leaving behind a legacy of hard work, erudition, great courage and fortitude. He commended Mishra for the courage he displayed, even in tough times.
“It has been a privilege to have him as a colleague. It is a peculiar thing that this is the first time I am sitting with him in court, and this happens to be his last time. You have been a beacon of courage and fortitude in discharging your duties,” the CJI told the judge.
“I am aware of the great difficulties which Justice Arun Mishra had to face on the personal front, and despite that, he carried on with his duties,” Bobde said, adding that Mishra maintained excellent relations with all his colleagues.
Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and former attorney general Mukul Rohatgi also spoke on the occasion.
‘If I have hurt anyone, please pardon me’
Justice Mishra said there is not a single case he decided in which he felt he was doing something that wasn’t just and proper.
He acknowledged the Bar for being the power behind whatever he has done. “I always tried to borrow the weapon of power given to me by learned brothers and you (Bar).”
The judge offered an apology in case he had hurt anyone. “I have often used harsh words. If I have hurt anyone in my life, please pardon me,” he said.
Justice Mishra also made a brief mention about the Prashant Bhushan contempt case, saying he did not want to punish anyone, but had to do so in this case.
He was restrained from speaking further by the CJI. “I do not want to discuss the details now,” he said, adding: “I thank everyone.”
Justice Mishra is an iron judge: Attorney General
In his brief address, Attorney General Venugopal lauded Justice Mishra for his “earth-shattering judgments”.
“Even in the last contempt case (the Prashant Bhushan case), he has laid down the law elaborately, though it will be a matter of debate,” the AG said.
“I have not seen in the Supreme Court a judge so firm and unshakeable. I would describe him as an iron judge’ of the Supreme Court,” he added.
Venugopal said he would have personally appreciated if the court had not punished Bhushan for contempt.
“But (Mishra’s) judgment elaborately laid down the contempt principle. I am also happy because he imposed only a token punishment as I had requested,” Venugopal said, reminiscing on his excellent 30-year relationship with the judge.
“We hope he will be with us in Delhi after retirement too,” said the AG.
Controversy dogged Justice Mishra till his last day
However, controversy continued to surround Justice Mishra, even on his retirement day.
Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president Dushyant Dave who, according to convention, was present to bid the judge goodbye, was allegedly muted during the virtual meeting.
Dave, who had logged on following a request from Supreme Court registry officials, was not unmuted when it was his turn to speak, which led him to exit the meeting.
The SCBA president later lodged a protest with the registrar, alleging it was a conspiracy on the part of the registry not to let him speak on the occasion. He claimed he was deliberately muted and the CJI gave preference to another bar leader — Supreme Court Advocate on Record Association president Shivaji Jadhav.
Dave has been one of the fierce critics of the judge. As Prashant Bhushan’s advocate, he had urged Justice Mishra to recuse himself from hearing the matter.
However, the Supreme Court computer cell clarified there was no deliberate attempt to mute Dave. Sources said there was a technical glitch at Dave’s end, and pointed out that Supreme Court Justice Indira Banerjee also could not be connected.
(This report has been updated with the Supreme Court computer cell’s clarification on Dushyant Dave’s allegations.)