During his farewell address, Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi of the Delhi High Court recommended new lawyers to focus on coping with Court Craft by watching Seniors rather than wasting time in conversing in canteens and corridors.
The Judge, who served in the Delhi High Court for 16 years and delivered 2210 judgments, went on to say that there is no shortcut in the legal profession and that Bar Members should practise honesty.
He also stated that while it is possible to improve one’s knowledge in any subject, young lawyers must not take shortcuts or be in a hurry to do so, but must instead take the time to study principles as well as the nuances of law.
“Do not spend your time simply chatting in the canteen or corridors. You will pick up the court craft, the manner in which you should address the Court, how to deal with a difficult situation or a difficult judge and above all, the law, my advice to all youngsters at the Bar is to always keep this in mind. I believe that honesty is the best policy and there are no shortcuts in life or in this profession. This is what I learnt from my grandfather, father and even my senior and mentor Sh. Mukul Rohatgi.”
In his last remarks, the Judge did not shy away from mentioning how the appointment process has gotten more time consuming and unclear over the years.
In his opinion, the issue should be addressed immediately in order to ‘bring the greatest talent to Bench.’
“The process of appointment over the years has become more time consuming and more uncertain. This has dissuaded many meritorious senior advocates and other advocates from giving their consent to be considered by the Collegium of High Court for recommending their names for judgeship.”
He also urged lower and higher court judges to discharge their duties honestly and without bias in order to retain public trust.
“I realized that we all hold this position as a public trust. It is that Public trust that we have to discharge and that can be done only with complete honesty. There is no room for any biases or for or against anything, either in court or outside, In my view, if the institution of judiciary has to achieve its intended goal of dispensing justice without fear or favour and in accordance with constitution and laws, we have to function with complete honesty, integrity and independence. We (judges) cannot have, much less pursue, an agenda. Whatever functions we discharge, judicial or administrative, have to be discharged objectively on merit and merit alone.”, the Judge added.
Furthermore, the Judge emphasised the need of addressing the issue of case pendency and cited the Delhi High Court’s position in this regard. He stated that, while the pendency has been decreased in recent years due to adequate bench strength, appointments have not kept pace with the retirements, transfers, and elevation of judges.
The Judge speaks up about the judiciary’s swift response in terrible situations such as the recent pandemic.
“The ongoing pandemic also put a spanner in the works though, i can proudly say, thanks to our already digitised records and functional e courts and dedicated computer committee headed by J. Shakdher and computer branch, we quickly started virtual courts.”
Reminiscing about his school days and reflecting on his journey from shy kid to judge, he advocated getting rid of shyness at an early stage. He also expressed his strong opposition to the widely held assumption that the job of a judge is “easy.”
“The general opinion of members of public that judges have it too easy because they have a five day week and also have summer and other breaks, is a result of their ignorance of the amount of work load that judges carry, the way they work and the kind of effort that goes into their business of judging, every vacation or break that I have had since I’ve become a judge has been spent in writing or completing judgments. This explains why there is a flurry of pronouncements soon after the breaks.” he added.
In the end, Justice Sanghi stated that he had grown so accustomed to the Delhi High Court, first as an Advocate and then as a Judge, that moving on would be difficult for him.
“It would not be easy for me having so used to of this Court, first as advocate and then as a judge. But I have to move on and the good part is that I have been choosen to head judiciary in one of the beautiful States in India.”
He ended his statement with a popular phrase, “Ab tumhaare hawaale Delhi High Court saathiyo!”
Justice Sanghi was appointed as an Additional Judge of the Delhi High Court on May 29, 2006, and was confirmed as a Judge on February 11, 2008. Justice Sanghi is now on his way to the Uttrakhand High Court to take over as Chief Justice.