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Supreme Court judge S Ravindra Bhat, who was part of a five-judge Constitution bench that refused to accord legal recognition to same-sex marriages earlier this week, demitted office on Friday, after a stint of little over four years in the top court.
“I wish to record my gratitude to all my colleagues who have shown nothing but great warmth and cordiality and to the members of this great bar for the cooperation and the daily quest for justice,” he said, as a ceremonial bench, headed by justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, bid him farewell.
“I wish that everyone adopts an approach of inquiry, fierce independence, empathy and compassion. I think these are hallmarks of not only a judge but every good human being and every legal practitioner,” he added.
Justice Bhat recalled his association with justice Kaul, which dates back to their graduation days. The two judges graduated together from Campus Law Centre at Delhi University in 1982.
“I consider myself very lucky to have ended my career after being a member of this bench,” he said.
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As per tradition, the retiring judge on the last day in office shares a bench with the Chief Justice of India (CJI) in court room number 1. However, in the absence of CJI DY Chandrachud, who is currently in the US, the ceremonial bench was constituted in court room number 2 and headed by justice Kaul.
Justice Bhat was enrolled as an advocate with the Delhi Bar Council in 1982. He was appointed as an additional judge of Delhi high court on July 16, 2004 and as a permanent judge on February 20, 2006. He was appointed as chief justice of Rajasthan high court on May 5, 2019, before moving to the Supreme Court on September 23 that year.
During his tenure in the top court, Justice Bhat was part of several landmark verdicts.
In the same-sex marriage case, he had authored an 89-page judgment for himself and justice Hima Kohli, disagreeing with the idea of legalising same-sex marriages. This judgment went on to become a part of the majority ruling, refusing to grant legal recognition to same-sex couples.
Justice Bhat was also part of a five-judge Constitution bench that had upheld last year the 10% reservation introduced in 2019 for economically weaker sections (EWS) in admissions and government jobs that excluded the poor among the SC, ST and OBC categories.
He was also part of the Constitution bench in 2021 that quashed the Maratha quota introduced by the Maharashtra government granting 12% and 13% reservation to Maratha community in admissions and government jobs in the state.
More recently, he called for strengthening of the law preventing sexual harassment of women at the workplace by directing appointment of district officers, who have the duty under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (prevention, prohibition and redressal) Act to ensure its effective implementation.
On Friday, he directed all high courts to ensure monitoring of five-year-old civil and criminal trials for early completion, saying any form of delay tends to make litigants disillusioned and leads to loss of confidence in the judicial system.
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