Fourth senior-most Supreme Court judge Justice M R Shah on Monday got emotional in the courtroom on his last day in office, saying he is not a person to retire and will start a new inning in life.
Sitting on the ceremonial bench presided over by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud, Justice Shah broke down at the end of his address and quoted lines from Raj Kapoor’s iconic song ”jeena yaha, marna yaha”.
”I am not a person to retire and I am going to start a new inning of my life. I am praying to the almighty God to give me strength and courage and good health to play the new inning,” said Justice Shah.
”Before parting, I would like to remember a song by Raj Kapoor ‘kal khel me hum ho na ho, gardish me tare rahenge sada’,” he said choking with emotions.
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With the retirement of Justice Shah, who was appointed to the top court on November 2, 2018, the number of judges in the top court will now come down to 32, including the CJI. A day before, Justice Dinesh Maheshwari demitted the office.
The apex court has the sanctioned strength of 34 judges.
Heading the ceremonial bench, set up to bid farewell to Justice Shah, the CJI fondly recalled his association with the retiring judge.
“My association with Justice Shah goes back to a long-long time when I was the Additional Solicitor General of India and we renewed our friendship when he came to the Supreme Court. We sat together during the most difficult times, that is during the Covid times.
”I will say some lighter things in the evening when I am liberated from presiding over this solemn occasion as the CJI. I will then speak to all of you as a friend of Justice Shah in the evening,” the CJI said.
He said it was a “true pleasure to sit with Justice M R Shah” and deal with all types of cases at the bench.
“He (Shah) is always ready for the challenge and even during Covid times, I found that when we were sitting in our respective homes and we were taking on some heavy matters, he was always ready for a challenge.
”He was never the one who shirks work. If I send him a judgement, the judgement will come back overnight with his annotations and be completely read. If I send him a judgement for him to draft as a senior colleague, likewise, the judgement will be on my table within 48 hours,” Justice Chandrachud said.
Nothing was kept pending by Justice Shah, the CJI said, adding that he is “a true friend and an enabled ally and support in the collegium”.
“In so many ways, I relied upon his very worldly knowledge of the legal professions, of our district judiciary and of our high courts because he served in Gujarat and in Patna as the Chief Justice,” Justice Chandrachud said.
Justice Shah thanked members of the bar and SC officials and his support staff for helping him serve as the top court judge.
”I do not know if I deserve it or not but I accept it as a parting gift,” Justice Shah said.
”During my tenure, if I have hurt anyone’s feelings, I extend my unconditional apology. It was not deliberate. I always treated my work as worship…I am overwhelmed by the love and affection shown by you. I am thankful to all members of the bar and the registry. I am also thankful to my support staff and residence staff,” he said.
Bar leaders, including Attorney General R Venkataramani, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and others wished Justice Shah on his last day on the bench.
“I have known My lord as a judge and as a lawyer too, he is one of the few brave judges that I have known…The number of judgements which you have written shows that your family has suffered the most, and now they must get the benefit of your time,” Mehta said.
Additional Solicitor General S V Raju said he has known Justice Shah for quite a long time and he is fearless just like a lawyer.
Justice Mukeshkumar Rasikbhai Shah was born on May 16, 1958, and enrolled as an advocate on July 19, 1982. He practiced in the Gujarat High Court, specialising in land, constitutional and education matters.
He was appointed as an Additional Judge of the Gujarat High Court on March 7, 2004, and appointed as Permanent Judge on June 22, 2005.
He was appointed as Chief Justice of Patna High Court on August 12, 2018. He was elevated as a Judge of the Supreme Court on November 2, 2018, and is retiring on May 15, 2023.