New Delhi: From failing his first-year law exam to now being appointed by the Supreme Court to oversee the committee probing the Pegasus snooping allegations, Justice R.V. Raveendran has come a long way and continues to stay as busy post-retirement, as he was while being an apex court judge.
The former Supreme Court judge will oversee a three-member technical committee which is to conduct a “thorough inquiry” into the matter. This committee comprises experts in cyber security, digital forensics, networks, and hardware.
Justice Raju Varadarajulu Raveendran enrolled as a lawyer in March 1968 and was appointed as a permanent judge of the Karnataka high court in February 1993. He was appointed as the chief justice of the Madhya Pradesh high court in July 2004.
He was elevated to the Supreme Court in September 2005 and had a six-year long tenure as an apex court judge, before retiring in October 2011.
While as a Supreme Court judge, Justice Raveendran delivered several landmark judgments including on OBC reservation, post-retirement he was a part of the Lodha Committee set up by the Supreme Court to reform the BCCI.
During his tenure as a Supreme Court judge, Justice Raveendran had been a part of several landmark judgments.
For instance, he was a part of a five-judge Constitution bench that upheld a 2006 law providing for 27 per cent reservation for Other Backward Classes in central educational institutions including IITs and IIMs, while excluding the creamy layer from the benefit.
He was also a part of a five-judge Constitution bench that heard a PIL filed in the wake of the removal of the governors of the states of Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, and Goa in July 2004 by the President of India. The verdict focussed on the constitutional role of a governor. The court ruled that neither can a governor be removed on the ground that he/she is out of sync with the policies and ideologies of the Union government or the party in power at the Centre, nor can he/she be removed on the ground that the Union government has lost confidence in him/her.
Back in 2009, he had recused from a bench hearing the Ambani brothers’ gas dispute, on the ground that his daughter worked for a law firm that had advised Mukesh Ambani’s group in some other matter. The dispute concerned the price at which natural gas drilled from Mukesh Ambani’s Krishna-Godavari basin was to be sold to Anil Ambani’s Reliance Natural Resources Ltd.
‘A real hero’
At this farewell function in 2011, then Chief Justice of India S.H. Kapadia had called Justice Raveendran “a real hero” and his “friend, guide and philosopher”.
“Friends, if you want an Indian hero, a real hero, my vote is for Justice Raveendran. He is one of the greatest judges of this court,” the former CJI was quoted as saying.
It was also at his farewell function that Justice Raveendran had revealed that he had failed in his first year of law school and that as a lawyer, he had an “inferiority complex”.
At the function, he had also reportedly asked lawyers to not get angry when they lose a case. He was quoted as saying, “Do not express your anger when you lose a case, start accepting the results philosophically. What you consider a strong point may be considered a weak point by the judge [concerned]. My appeal to you is do not impute motives to judges when the decision goes against you as that will destroy the institution of which you are a part.”
Lodha Committee, Hadiya
After retirement, Justice Raveendran was a part of arguably one of the most high-profile post-retirement assignments given to any judge — the R.M. Lodha Committee formed in January 2015 to reform Indian cricket’s apex administration body, the BCCI.
As reported by ThePrint, a total amount of Rs 6 crore was spent on the Lodha Committee and its activities. This included both direct expenses on committee members and indirect expenses incurred. The committee submitted its recommendations a year later on 18 December 2015.
Back in 2017, the Supreme Court had urged Justice Raveendran to supervise the National Investigation Agency (NIA) probe into allegations of Kerala resident Hadiya’s forceful conversion to Islam and her marriage with a Muslim named Shefin Jahan.
The order, passed on 16 August 2017, had asserted that this was being done “to ensure that the investigation carried out by the National Investigation Agency is fair”. It had then prescribed the remuneration for the stint as well, saying that Justice Raveendran shall be paid a consolidated fee of Rs. 1 lakh for a sitting with the NIA at Bangalore and Rs 2 lakh per day for travelling outside Bangalore, apart from reimbursement of all travels, boarding, lodging, and secretarial expenses.
However, Justice Raveendran turned down the request a few days later.
In June this year, Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana released Justice Raveendran’s book Anomalies in Law and Justice, a collection of essays.
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)