Time spent at the Madras High Court has been akin to a pilgrimage, Chief Justice AP Sahi remarked on Tuesday in a virtual farewell event organised by the Madras Bar Association (MBA).
The farewell function also saw Chief Justice Sahi, who retires at the end of this month, expressing his admiration for the high values and traditions of the Madras High Court.
“I came here alone and took oath alone. But I leave with the entire family of Madras”, he remarked as he began his address.
“You have maintained your heritage and the beautiful lineage that you have inherited“, he told the lawyers present, adding “you are in the true sense a Presidency court, a court that is enriched with high values.”
Judgments of the High Court are cited with authority and receive approval because they remain unmatched, he observed. He added that this is due to the efforts of both the Bar and the Bench. He noted that Madras High Court Judges have contributed significantly to growth of law, not only in the past, but also during trying times such as during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He went on inform the audience that his time at the Madras High Court had been a learning experience like no other.
“Every step that I climbed in your company at the Madras High Court was full of rich experience. It was something which I did not have the opportunity to have in my previous years of judicial career. That is why I say that Madras High Court has a heritage… To be the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, it is a pilgrimage. It is such a pilgrimage that Mr Sunderesan need not regret my non-elevation to the Supreme Court… The High Court has been able to deliver something which is now quoted with pride in every court. This, I find, to be a culture of this Court … I have found that right from the lowest rung to the highest, the presentation, forensic arguments, the knowledge of the law, have all been displayed with such excellence that it will go a long way in my memory, not only for appreciation but also for emulation in future… The Bar and Bench of the Madras High Court have contributed not only to law but also given me a sense as if this is the real place for learning. Aspirations and ambitions will never be depreciated.”
In his address, Chief Justice Sahi also urged junior lawyers to be like sponges to absorb the experience of their seniors, adding that,
“The contribution put in by your seniors has resulted in some outstanding judgments which reverberate throughout the country today.”
To drive home his point, Chief Justice Sahi also quoted Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr, who said,
“The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions.”
Chief Justice Sahi added,
“This is the place of seniors in your life. Try to revere them and you will gain. With the excellent legal culture of this High Court, any junior can aspire to be designated a senior. “
Incidentally, the Chief Justice also made an appreciative note for the practice followed by lawyers in the Madras High Court to fold their hands to both Court and adversary at the end of a hearing. Observing that this is not found in any other court in the country, Chief Justice Sahi opined that it is a tradition that deserves to be maintained.
The traditions, high values, and exposition in the law at the Madras High Court stand second to none, he remarked while concluding his address on a note of pride. He added.
“Before my parting, I request you to forgive me if there have been any mistakes on my part.”
In his introductory address, MBA President and Senior Advocate ARL Sundaresan recounted that Chief Justice Sahi has always been accommodating when it came to meetings with the Bar, even where he did not find the time to prepare speeches. Judgments were delivered in quick time, with reasons to the satisfaction of even those not familiar with legalese, he added. Lawyers, senior or junior, were treated equally and hearings were patient, Sundaresan further observed.
The vote of thanks was rendered by MBA Secretary, M Basker.