For the first time in the annals of the Madras High Court, an outgoing judge of the High Court, that too on elevation to the Supreme Court, is leaving with a ‘heavy’ and ‘painful’ heart. Even while a spell-bound audience of judges and advocates wondered as to why on this happy occasion, he was saying so, a visibly upset Justice Agrawal told them that he could have left this court quietly thanking all, but he would be failing in his duty if he did not share his feelings with the audience as, for him, the interest of the institution had always been paramount consideration.
“For my part, I assure all of you that even in the apex court, my earnest endeavour shall always be to ensure that this Court regains all the lost glory and marches ahead achieving even greater heights,’’ he said.
People will come and go, but the institution shall remain. Nothing should be done causing damage to its name. It will take years to build a reputation, but only a moment to get it destroyed. ‘’We have to be very careful in our conduct. The danger is from within, and not from outside. We have to be very careful in our acts,’’ he said.
He said he was sorry to point out the recent incidents, which had made a deep dent in the image of the High Court.
He recalled one such incident that happened recently to him. ‘’In my entire career of over 37 years both in the Bar and at the Bench, nobody, be it my friends or foes, had ever raised their voice while talking to me or while addressing me during court proceedings. But here on one fateful day, a respected colleague of mine (Justice CS Karnan) hurled invectives at me and cast aspersions at the affairs of this Court. I need not tell you that the events of this Court are followed throughout the country. I worry not about the personal comments, but I do get pained when I hear that innuendos are being targeted at the High Court and it is becoming the subject of public ridicule.’’
(While all the judges participated in the farewell function, Justice CS Karnan was conspicuously absent.)He added: “I had started treating myself as part of this court and took this court as my court. Suddenly, one fine morning, I learnt that a section of the Bar treats me as an outsider. I was deeply pained. I introspected about the possible reasons, but am yet to come up with any.”
He also made a shocking revelation that many of his colleagues here had expressed their desire to seek voluntary transfer to other High Courts in the country. His colleagues from other High Courts are also hesitant to come to this Court.