Outgoing Supreme Court judge, Justice Ashok Bhushan, on Friday said that justice must be tempered with mercy but justice cannot be substituted by mercy.
In his remarks at a virtual farewell function, organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association, from his home in Prayagraj, Justice Bhushan, who will retire on July 4, said he was proud to be part of the top court, which upheld the democracy and rule of law.
“I have been true to my oath and discharged my duty without fear and favour. Protection and enforcement of constitutional rights is both power and duty of the court,” he said.
“Justice must be tempered with mercy but justice cannot be substituted by mercy,” he said.
Justice Bhushan said he always endeavoured to enhance reputation the top court. “I thank the members of the Bar for always being kind and respectful inside and outside the court. The relationship I had with the Bar was not that of judge and advocate but an easy one,” he added.
In his address, Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana cited a German saying: “Man’s feelings are always the purest at the time of meeting and bidding farewell”.
“Apart from being a great judge, he also has the distinction of being a fine gentleman. He is respected equally by both the Bar and the Bench, for the humility with which he conducts himself,” he said.
The Chief Justice said Justice Bhushan’s philosophy sets him apart from everyone else, and with his remarkable judgments, he has not only left an indelible mark in the history of the Indian judiciary, but by virtue of being a humanist judge, he has also left a mark in the minds and hearts of the people of India.
Attorney General K.K. Venugopal called Justice Bhushan a judge with compassion. “I remember long lines of children walking, with mothers carrying their children, they were migrants and tears would come to one’s eye. Justice Bhushan and Supreme Court came to the rescue regarding the distribution of dry ration and running of community kitchens,” he said.
He added that Justice Bhushan took a commendable step by taking suo motu cognizance of the migrant workers issue and directing distribution of food grains and community kitchens amongst them, till the pandemic continues.
Justice Bhushan has been a part of several landmark verdicts: the historic Ayodhya land dispute case, upholding the validity of biometric ID Aadhaar, and also the judgment which held the Chief Justice is the ‘master of the roster’ and has the prerogative to allocate cases.
Justice Bhushan was also part of a nine-judge Constitution bench, which in February last year, held that its five-judge bench can refer questions of law to a larger bench while exercising its limited power under review jurisdiction in the Sabarimala temple case.
He also headed a five-judge bench, which in May this year, refused to refer to a larger bench, the issue whether to revisit its 29-year-old Mandal verdict capping reservation at 50 per cent. Citing the violation of principle of right to equality, the bench also quashed a Maharashtra law granting reservations to Marathas in admissions and government jobs in the state.