While several members of the Bar stayed away from Courtroom no. 1 where Justice Chelameswar presided on his last working day, Lawyers Collective organized a reception for the outgoing Judge the same evening. Addressing the gathering, Justice Chelameswar began by acknowledging the support that he received from the younger generation, while light-heartedly censuring “one crore a day lawyers”, who he felt “hardly open their mouth” and “hardly take a stand”.
He said, “It was pointed out to me that over the last year and a half, I have undertaken to democratize the institution. It’s the younger generation that has stood by me. The established and acknowledged constitutional lawyers and jurists attacked me from every side.
Justice Chelameswar went on to shed some light on the values tat influenced his actions during his time as a Judge, saying, “If something is good, it is to be preserved; if something is doubtful, it is to be checked and rectified; if something is bad, it is to be destroyed. I worked with that belief; I had nothing personal against anyone in the system.
I stood up for certain issues and values. Wherever I perceived that things were going wrong, I stood up, I raised questions.”
He also emphasized on the fact that he has always been willing to face the consequences of his actions, whether it be his abstention from collegium meetings after the NJAC judgment, or the press conference held this year. He said,…
“What is the law or the scripture which says judges cannot hold press conferences? They shouldn’t hold a press conference to defend their judgments… I knew that when I opened my mouth, I would have to go through all this, and I was willing to take it…
…But the established systems are such that any questioning will not be taken kindly. You are required to have the courage, the determination to fight the system if you want to bring about good change. Every fight is not necessarily good.But if you’re convinced on principle that the fight is to be carried on for good change, please go ahead!”.
He spoke about the reactions received on the press conference as well, but lamented the fact that either former Judges didn’t want to hold an opinion at all, or wanted to remain anonymous while giving one….
“In the last six months, wherever I went in the country, people have come up to me and said, ‘we are happy that you did it’…. What really troubled me was that former judges of the Supreme Court and high courts called me and said, ‘We wish you more strength.
Sir, Please speak up now!,” he added. He now pinned his hopes on the younger generation to take up the issues and voice their opinions. His address ended with him asserting that he is going to continue his service to the country, and thanking especially the younger generation for its support.
His address, quite naturally, received a standing ovation from the gathering.