Chief Justice of India (CJI) N V Ramana on Tuesday said that apex court judge Justice Vineet Saran is a “man of people”, conscious of social realities, and persons with genuine cause would never go empty from his court. Bidding farewell to Justice Saran, who is demitting office as an apex court judge today, the CJI said he rates Justice Saran as a “fair and equitable judge”.
“Justice Saran is a compassionate person, conscious of the social realities. People with genuine cause would never go empty from his court,” the CJI said during a function organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) to bid farewell to Justice Saran, who was sworn in as a judge of the apex court on August 7, 2018.
Justice Ramana said he firmly believes that judges themselves personify the fairness and equity upon which the legal system is built upon. “The other day, I was told that … some of the lawyers said you are a very popular judge. Justice Saran said don’t call me a popular judge, call me a fair and equitable judge. I rate him as a fair and equitable judge,” the CJI said.
“At the same time, Justice Saran is a man of people and wherever he has gone he earned that reputation and retirement means he may get some freedom which he lost as a judge,” he said. Justice Ramana said he believes in a “democratic way of functioning” and any achievement during the last one year of his tenure as the CJI is a collective decision and the credit should go to all and not to any individual.
“I believe in the democratic way of functioning and for any decisions, we must receive the suggestions and must allow everyone’s view to be respected in making decisions then only it will work well. This is how I believe,” he said. The CJI said Justice Saran worked in three different courts -- Allahabad, Karnataka, and thereafter Orissa -- and wherever he worked, he got a very good name.
Earlier during the day, Justice Saran was part of the ceremonial bench headed by the CJI, and the bar members gathered there to bid farewell to him. The CJI said Justice Saran has had a good sense of humour and always leaves a strong mark with his wit and humour.
“We are bidding farewell to a man who has shown commitment for being a fair judge. He is known not just for abundant wisdom but wit and humour which created a welcoming environment. He left a mark because of his grace, humility, and patience,” he said. Attorney General K K Venugopal said it is difficult to believe that Justice Saran is retiring. “It is difficult to believe that Justice Vineet Saran is retiring. He looks so young,” the top law officer said.
The CJI intervened during Venugopal’s speech and said, “all of us look young including you Attorney General.” During the function organised by the SCBA at the auditorium in the new additional building of the apex court, besides the CJI, Justice Saran, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, SCBA President Vikas Singh, and others also addressed the gathering.
Justice Saran said it is always said that the bar and the bench are two wheels of a chariot and in the present scenario, it is the bar that has always guided the bench and that is how the entire procedure goes and that is how “we have achieved success”. “The role played by the members of the bar is as important, if not more, as that of the judges. Without there being proper guidance and assistance from the bar, no judge can write a good judgement,” he said.
Justice Saran said he has had a “wonderful innings” as a judge in the last two decades, including his tenure as an apex court judge, and he will cherish all the memories. During his tenure as an apex court judge, Justice Saran penned several important judgements and he was also part of the constitution benches which dealt with key issues.
He was part of a five-judge constitution bench that had in April 2020 quashed the January 2000 order of the erstwhile state of Andhra Pradesh which provided 100 per cent reservation to the Scheduled Tribe candidates for the post of teachers in schools in the scheduled areas, saying it was "arbitrary" and "not permissible" under the Constitution.
Another constitution bench, of which Justice Saran was a part, had in August 2020 held that the state has the legislative competence or authority to provide for a separate source of entry for the in-service doctors seeking admissions in postgraduate degree/diploma medical courses.
He was also a part of the constitution bench which had in May 2020 held that cooperative banks involved in the activities related to banking are covered within the meaning of 'banking company' and Parliament has legislative competence to provide for the procedure for recovery of the loan under the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (SARFAESI) Act.
In a significant verdict delivered by a constitution bench, which also comprised Justice Saran, the apex court had ruled that its 2004 verdict holding that states do not have the power to further sub-classify the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for grant of quotas needed to be revisited by a bench of seven or more judges. Prior to being elevated as an apex court judge, Justice Saran was the Chief Justice of the Orissa High Court.
-With PTI Input