Was victim of procedural delay in courts, says retiring SC judge

He insisted that her retirement is a gap “very difficult to fill by the Collegium”.
Justice R Banumathi
Justice R Banumathi

New Delhi, Jul 17 : Supreme Court judge, Justice R. Banumathi, who will retire on July 19, on Friday sat on a bench for the last time. In her farewell function, she revealed that she was a victim of complicated judicial procedure and judicial delay.

During a virtual farewell organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association, Banumathi, revealing her story, said she lost her father, when she was merely two years old, in an accident. She, however, recalled that she, her mother and two sisters, were unable to procure compensation in the accident case as a consequence of long-drawn court procedure. Also, the absence of adequate assistance aggravated the situation.

“In those days, we had to file a suit for compensation. My mother filed the claim and the court passed a decree but we could not get the amount due to complicated procedures.”

She added her widowed mother and two sisters were victims of procedural lags. Banumathi, however, stressed that her mother ensured that all her three girls were educated, and as a result, she joined the judicial services.

Banumathi, before retirement, is the only sitting Supreme Court judge to be elevated from the subordinate judiciary.

In a career spanning over three decades, she served as District Judge in Tamil Nadu before being elevated to the Madras High Court.

She was the Chief Justice of the Jharkhand High Court before being elevated to the apex court.

In her speech, Banumathi cited various steps taken to reduce the backlog in the top court, and cited the digitization of the system enabling access to justice, a very important feature which was not available until the last decade.

She also appreciated all the members of the Bar who appeared before her in various courts.

Attorney General K.K. Venugopal said the top court is losing a great judge, and expressed hope to see her back at legal work by presiding over arbitration disputes. Supreme Court Bar Association President Dushyant Dave also expressed deep gratitude to Justice Banumathi for sharing the very personal story. He added that it is a very inspiring story and hoped she would become a role model for the young members of the Bar.

He insisted that her retirement is a gap “very difficult to fill by the Collegium”.

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