Saw hills, even guns in background, says outgoing CJI on virtual hearing

“I hand over the baton to Justice (N.V.) Ramana who, I am certain, will very ably lead the court,” he added.
Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde
Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde

New Delhi, Apr 23 : Sitting on a bench in the Supreme Court for one last time, outgoing Chief Justice of India (CJI), S.A. Bobde, said on Friday that he did his best and also recalled his experience of virtual court hearing when he took up cases through video-conferencing for a large of part of his tenure.

Bobde said: “I did my best. I don’t know how it came across, but I am happy with what I could do.”

“I hand over the baton to Justice (N.V.) Ramana who, I am certain, will very ably lead the court,” he added.

Recalling his experience of virtual hearing, the outgoing CJI said: “There are many disadvantages of hearings through video-conferencing, but it was the need of the hour. But hearing you (lawyers) in the virtual mode made me feel like taking a tour of your chambers without physically visiting them.”

The top court began taking up cases virtually in March 2020 after the imposition of nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of Covid-19, and it continues till today.

Bobde added that as lawyers appeared virtually before the court, he saw varied things in the background, ranging from hills, paintings and sculptures to even guns and pistols.

Sharing the bench with CJI-designate N.V. Ramana and justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian, Bobde said he could recognise the statue behind the Attorney General and the idol of Lord Ganesha at the Solicitor General’s office, adding that video-conferencing has its own advantages.

“This last hearing has evoked mixed feelings. I have been on the ceremonial bench before, but these feelings are too mixed to allow me to say anything clearly. There are too many things to say,” Bobde said.

He added, “But I must say that I leave this court with happiness, with fond memories of wonderful arguments, excellent presentations, good behaviour and a great commitment to the cause of justice, not only from my learned colleagues, but also from the bar and everyone else.”

Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, the president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Vikas Singh, and the chief of the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association, Shivaji M Jadhav, were present during the proceedings.

Venugopal praised Bobde for rising to the occasion and seamlessly converting physical hearing into the virtual mode when the pandemic struck last year.

Mehta termed Bobde as a decent human being with a rare and amazing sense of humour.

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