PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS DELIVERED BY MR. PRAVIN H. PAREKH, PRESIDENT, SUPREME COURT BAR ASSOCIATION (SCBA), ON THE OCCASION OF FUNCTION ORGANIZED BY SCBA TO BID FAREWELL TO HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE V.S. SIRPURKAR, JUDGE, SUPREME COURT OF INDIA ON FRIDAY, 19TH AUGUST 2011 AT THE SUPREME COURT LAWNS.
1. Hon’ble Mr. Justice S.H. Kapadia the Chief Justice of India, Hon’ble Mr. Justice V. S. Sirpurkar, Mrs. Kumkum Sirpurkar, Hon’ble Judges of the Supreme Court, Justice Kabir, Justice Raveendran, Justice Bhandari, Justice Jain, Justice Bedi, Justice Sathasivam, Justice Aftab Alam, Justice Panchal, Justice Sharma, Justice Cyriac Joseph, Justice Ganguly, Justice Lodha, Justice Dattu, Justice Chauhan, Justice Patnaik, Justice Thakur, Justice Nijjar, Justice Swatanter Kumar, Justice Prasad, Justice Gokhale, Justice Dave, Mr. Goolam E. Vahanvati, Learned Attorney General for India, Mr. R. F. Nariman, Solicitor General Of India, learned Additional Solicitor Generals, family members of Justice Sirpurkar, Mr. Anil Mardikar President of the High Court Bar Association Nagpur, Secretary High Court Bar Association, Nagpur, other members of the High Court Bar Association, Nagpur, Mr. Rakesh Khanna, Vice President and Mr. K.C. Kaushik, Hony. Secretary, other office bearers and senior members and other members of the Executive Committee of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Presidents, Vice Presidents, Secretaries & Members of the Executive Committee of various Bar Associations present here, members of Bar Council of Delhi, my colleagues at the bar, distinguished guests, representatives of media, ladies and gentlemen.
2. The Bar bids farewell to Hon’ble Mr. Justice Vikas Sridhar Sirpurkar with a heavy heart, a pleasant, courteous, multi-lingual Judge with a great sense of Humour.
3. Ten days back I received an anonymous call asking me to use superlative praises about Justice Sirpurkar in my farewell speech because Justice Sirpurkar is son-in-law of SCBA and we all know how Indian son – in –law’s can be. Immediately I asked our Research and Analysis wing to investigate. Their report confirmed that Justice Sirpurkar is son-in-law of SCBA and the reason given is that Mrs. Kumkum Sirpurkar was President of the High Court Bar Association, Nagpur for three years. Since the High Court Bar Association is the child of SCBA, Mrs. Sirpurkar is daughter of SCBA and therefore her husband is the son-in-law. I do not know how to deal with a son-in-law because I only have two sons. I therefore decided that I will use the provisions of the SCBA Rule No 14 (1) by remaining absent today and requesting Mr. Rakesh Khanna, our Vice President to preside over this function. I told Rakesh that I am going to submit a sick leave for 19th because I am afraid of the word son-in-law and he should preside. He told me“I never say no to you for anything but will this august gathering accept me as a father-in-law”? Therefore I am here before you, ladies & gentlemen.
4. Justice Sirpurkar is born, brought up and married in legal background. Everyone in the family is a lawyer including his father, mother, wife, son, daughter-in-law, father-in-law, grandfather-in-law, brothers and sisters, all belong to the legal fraternity and that is the secret of his success story.
5. He matriculated as a topper from Chandrapur District of Maharashtra. After graduating from Morris College, Nagpur in 1966, he completed his degree of law from the University College of Law, Nagpur. During his Practice at High Court of Nagpur bench, he excelled in the field of constitutional and criminal law.
6. He was elected as a Joint Secretary and acted as Secretary of the High Court Bar Association, Nagpur.
7. He was elevated as a Judge of the Bombay High Court . Justice Sirpurkar was the first member of the bar to be appointed as a Judge of the Bombay High Court from Nagpur Bench.
8. Before being elevated to Supreme Court, Justice Sirpurkar has been a Judge in the North, South, East, West namely Bombay High Court, Madras High Court, Chief Justice of Uttaranchal High Court and Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court.
9. His mother was the first lady advocate to start practicing in Taluk Court at Warora Baba Amte’s village. Justice Sirpurkar belongs to Chinddwara, now part of Madhya Pradesh. His father shifted from Chidwara to Warora and fought with the British government. Justice Sirpurkar’s father is not present here today since he is 94 year old. We wish and pray that he should cross the century.
10. Mr. Sirpurkar was in the last batch of two years law course and Mrs Kumkum Sirpurkar (then Kumkum De) was in the first batch of three years law course and therefore they were together in law college for one year during which they inter alia worked hard as law students. As law student Justice Sirpurkar acted in a drama performed by the law students on the college day and its director was (student Kumkum De now) Mrs. Sirpurkar as the Drama Secretary of the college. This actor-director relationship continues till now.
11. In 1971 Mr Jamuwant Rao was elected to Lok Sabha defeating R.C. Sharma. Advocate Mr. Sirpurkar, appeared for the winning candidate and Kumkumjee appeared for the losing candidate. Advocate Kumkumjee lost and Adv. Sirpurkar won in the High Court. The matter came to Supreme Court with the same result. Kumkumjee then decided to follow the dictum “that if you cannot defeat them, join them” the natural result was this great marriage.
12. Kumkumjee however never forgot the defeat in that famous election matter by Justice Sirpurkar and took revenge by becoming President of the High Court Bar Association, Nagpur for 3 years and shown her superior power and status since her husband could only go up to Secretary of High Court Bar Association, Nagpur.
13. Kumkumjee was elected as Senate Member of Nagpur University for the law faculty for a term of 5 years. She taught Constitutional Law and Hindu Law for Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar College of Law in Nagpur She was on a committee found in for prevention of sexual harassment of women in work place pursuant to the judgment in Vishaka’s Case. She was elected to the Executive Committee of the Bar Association of India. Mrs. Sirpurkar is the designated senior advocate and the only lady from Vidharbha area to be so designated by the Hon’ble High Court.
14. Justice Sirpurkar used to come and appear in the Supreme Court quite often.
15. Justice Sirpurkar had a good academic career both in school and colleges. He was elected as a Member of Maharashtra Bar Council twice. He is fond of music and has been part of various programmes organized by different bar associations, other organizations, cultural activities and associated with cultural organizations in different parts of India. His love for literature and music can be easily gathered from his speeches and addresses in the public gathering. He is a good orator.
16. I will like to share with you an information that Justice Sirpurkar has violated Dowry Prohibition Act. While by occupying the official residence of the Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court. The said premises originally belonged to Mr. S.K. Ghosh, ICS. Mr. Ghosh was convicted in Burma refugee fraud case by a Tribunal headed by late Ravi Bahadur G.V. De, who is grandfather of Kumkumjee. This Tribunal confiscated all properties of Mr. S.K. Ghosh, including the present official residence of Chief Justice of Calcutta and Justice Sirpurkar by occupying the premises clearly violated Dowry Prohibition Act.
17. Justice Sirpurkar is a multi linguist. He knows Marathi because that is his mother tongue. He knows Bengali because that is his wife tongue. He knows Hindi. He speaks Gujarati and Tamil. He also knows quite a lot of Sanskrit and Urdu.
18. Mrs. Kumkum Sirpurkar was coming, attending and addressing various conferences, national and international, including some of the conferences organized by SCBA in Vigyan Bhawan and organized by me as office bearer of various organizers. She has been presenting papers in these conferences, long before Justice Sirpurkar was elevated to Supreme Court.
19. He also had the privilege of being the senior most judge of the high court situated in hot, hotter and hottest climate i.e. Madras High Court and cold, colder and coldest climate namely, Chief Justice of Uttarakhand High Court.
20. Justice Sirpurkar succeeded Chief Justice Kapadia as the Chief Justice of Uttarakhand High Court. As the Chief Justice of Uttarakhand High Court he was responsible creating 17 courts in remote areas in Uttarakhand. There were no courts there because it was said that there was no litigation and those areas did not fulfil the pendency criteria. However, once those courts were set, there has been more than enough work for all those courts. As Chief Justice he toured all the 13 districts of Uttarakhand and took personal interest in finding problems of the bar and the bench.
21. When Justice Sirpurkar became the Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court there were 123 squatters and unauthorised occupants occupying the High Court premises. Some of them were employees and ex-employees of the High Court and some were rank trespassers. They used to cook there, eat there, sleep there and procreate there. They were all removed. Those who were employees were given alternative accommodation and those who were rank trespassers were removed by force. Hon’ble Mr. Justice A.K. Ganguly who is present here also was very helpful. In fact, this had to be done despite the fact that the government was not interested in removing them. Justice Sirpurkar also got 27000 squatters of Govindpur railway line rehabilitated.
22. He also took interest and in cleaning up Kalighat, one of the most famous and holy Hindu temple in Calcutta and saved the pilgrims from the onslaught of Pandas. Pandas were prohibited from entering the sanctum sanctorum of the deity. In fact, I have always wondered that the religious places of Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Jains, Budhists and Parsi are kept very neat and clean and why is it that our Hindu temples at many of our places of pilgrimage are not kept neat and clean.
23. Justice Sirpurkar as the Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court had the privilege of giving oath of office to 16 high court judges, six from bar and 10 from services on one day. This was a welcome change because when Justice Sirpurkar took over as Chief Justice, there were only 28 judges despite the sanctioned strength of 49 judges.
24. He has deliberated upon the core issues concerning the pay scales of employees on the recommendations of Fifth Central Pay Commission; interpreted formation of unlawful assembly as incorporated under the criminal jurisprudence, thereby helping in preservation and maintenance of the rights of the common man against the lawless instincts of men in power. His decisions are loaded with the precedents forming the fundamental structure of the Judiciary. He has always analysed and had a balanced and logical approach truly acknowledging the “piety of speech” .
25. The gesture of Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India when Hon’ble Mr. Justice Reddy retired of permitting Justice Reddy to leave before him at the end of the board was repeated today for Hon’ble Mr. Justice Sirpurkar and it has now attained the status of convention
26. Today for the first time Mrs. Kumkum Sirpurkar entered Justice Sirpurkar’s Court room as a member of the bar and our intelligence bureau reports that she was satisfied with her husband’s performance in Court No.1
27. Today is Parsi Pateti and tomorrow the Parsi New Year starts. The word “Pateti” comes from “Patet”, the word for repentance. Pateti is a day for a person to reflect on their thoughts, words and deeds of the previous year and to repent to those who were not good. The repentance allows dedicating the New Year to good thoughts, words and deeds in process of ethical growth.
On behalf of the bar I express my greetings to Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India and our Parsi brothers and sisters.
I am sure our Chief Justice had excellent Parsi breakfast today
28. We will all miss Justice Sirpurkar. We wish Justice Sirpurkar and Smt. Kumkumjee and all the family members all the best and all other family members all the best.
29. The following is the message given by Justice Sirpurkar to the Bar:
My dear Members of the Bar, you all and I belong to an institution called ‘judiciary’ which is our mother institution. At this juncture, when the whole nation is at the cross-roads, we are expected to act as the whistle blowers as we are the conscience keepers of the nation. We would, therefore, have to rise to the occasion and provide a panacea for the national problems. We have done it in the past and I am sure, we would be continuing our constructive role, not only to build and strengthen our mother institution-judiciary but also to strengthen the nation. The efforts, however, would have to start from our own self by cleansing our own conscience and then thinking beyond the individual self-interest.
I wish you all a very bright future.
August 20, 2011
30. Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen
Date: 19.8.2011 Pravin H Parekh
 B. Bharat v. Osmania University, (2007) 11 SCC 58.
 Amerika Rai & Ors. Vs. State Of Bihar, AIR( 2011) SC 1379.
 R.L. Steevenson.