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The amazing career of CJI Kapadia: From Fountain to Herculean hermit, ‘too dignified to even meet other judges’

SH Kapadia: Dignified
SH Kapadia: Dignified
Forbes does a profile of Chief Justice of India (CJI) SH Kapadia, gathering a remarkable biography from eating Bombay Chana at Flora Fountain as a class IV employee at Bombay HC, to the breeze in BHC’s courtroom number 3 and his hard-working rise to judge, a special court judge, the chief justice of the Uttaranchal HC, a judge of the SC and, finally, CJI.

“A judge, by virtue of his chosen profession, chooses to become an ascetic, distant from the society he lives in, yet immersed in it so deep that he is confronted with the rawness of its existential struggle every day,” says Kapadia, who keeps himself “hermetically sealed” from society “in his pursuit of flawless integrity”, reports Forbes.

Unsurprisingly, the magazine was denied an interview with the judge but retired justice VR Krishna Iyer tells Forbes he’d gathered that Kapadia was too dignified to even meet other judges.

Much before filling the chair of the chief’s court at SC on 12 May 2010, Kapadia had a landmark judgement associated with his name. In 1982, while practicing at the Bombay bar he fought a case leading to settlement of the legal principle that governments cannot invoke summary eviction laws to throw out people when there is a genuine dispute on the title.

Soli Sorabjee says that litigants return satisfied for being “fully and fairly” heard in Kapadia’s court, even if they lose the case. To fully understand an environmental dispute once, Kapadia made arguing counsel Harish Salve turn the courtroom into a classroom for environmental jurisprudence for seven Fridays in a row.

Feathers in his cap include the disposal of 39 matters within his first half-hour as CJI, streamlining the SC registry so that the much abused practice of “bench-hunting” and “out-of-turn-case-mentioning” became obsolete, the stoppage of illegal mining in Bellary district, disqualification of a wrongly appointed central vigilance commissioner, and the Vodafone judgement [Forbes India | Also see Court Witness’ Sarosh ‘Hercules’ Kapadia’s mid-term appraisal from 2011 (TBC…)]

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