KCsir & GRS- Two of a Kind Justices with a Capital J Narasimhan Vijayaraghavan

KCsir & GRS- Two of a Kind
Justices with a Capital J
Narasimhan Vijayaraghavan

For one who sat down to key in on the ‘Pendency Pandemic’, the news and number ‘96,000’ stood out. Not like a sore thumb. But as a panacea. KCsir, ( no J, please note he did not like it ) K Chandru Sir, a retired Judge of the Madras High Court) , would have been a ‘Virtual’ phenomenon. He may have had a grouse and grievance that connectivity to the poorer classes was an issue. And the lesser blessed practitioner left out . But he would not have carried this complaint to the Bench. He would have religiously ( he may find this expression as an anachronism to his agnostic near atheist vision) sat, heard and disposed- as if A Veni, Vedi,Vici- I came, I saw, I conquered in Julius Caesar mould.

No one possibly deserved the Ambedkar award bestowed on him by the TN Government more. He knew not Ambedkar. But his teachings like the back of his palm. And his judgments were implied with that spirit. So, the award in Babasaheb’s name belongs here. Please accept our hearty congratulations Sir. He may not like one or invite one. But will accept it, when he knows it is sincere, well meant and genuine.

What was that 96,000 magic number? It was 1.00,000/- plus, he told me once. That alludes to the causes he decided as Judge. He was metronomic. He just accumulated them as runs. He was Gavaskar like in compilation. But he was Sehwag like in execution. Ask those poor practitioners on either side of the spectrum. Those who got the velvet side or rough end of the stick. Disciplined. Justice was done to both. That is what stood out. No bias. No prejudice. Except towards Justice with a capital J.

One man, One Judge, for sure who would have loved it, would have been or would be GRS ( no J again). GRS is proving to be a Virtual phenomenon. This man too comes, sits, and disposes. Like nobody’s business. Well, he is in the KCSir mode. He is so accessible on the Virtual. In assembly line disposition. Why? How?

Well, he would love to be described as a Chela. But KCSir may not agree on the ideological or philosophical plane. It could even be chalk and cheese, if you deep dive. One recalls the Ruth Bader Ginsberg v. Antonin Scalia divine friendship and ( visceral dispositions towards distinct philosophies) on the SCOTUS. They were dark chalk and darker cheese. Yet, they were the best of friends. Ginsberg was a Liberal with two capita LLs. And Scalia was a Conservative with three CCCs. Yet, Bosom pals, if you will. They attended operas together. Partied as friends not colleagues. Yet, when it came to their judicial positions- they guarded their distinct territories and never missed calling out the other. They laughed out their differences. For at the very core, they after both after that elusive J – Justice- not title, but faculty.

KCSir came in before the commencement bell rang. He refused to have the ‘hissing’ by the assistants to announce Parak, Parak. He hated it. And said so. His chamber doors were always open. But he was surprised , when I made my entry. For he thought that not many saw it easy to. And he was conscious enough to put all the lights and fan out when he went out disposal hunting, to the Bench. It was State property. It was public.

He did not suffer fools. He read, read and re read the briefs. He knew more on the cases than the practitioners who pursued the cause.Adjournment was Anathema.It was a pejorative. A four letter word.

Once, when a batch of 56 cases were listed before him, as they first item next day, as Specially Ordered ( you see he was always special), he called, at the dead of night.Hour did not matter, when duty did.

“ Counsel, the common counter said to have been filed by you is missing the massive court docket. Could you please deliver it now? I am a paper man not a digital beast”.

I went to deliver. The man was waiting. Standing outside. In his dhoti and banian and not in Justice regalia. Profusely thankful.Apologetic, he could not host me a coffee. And picked up the papers and turned around and walked of to resume reading.

Come the morrow. The entire Bar was not ready. ‘They’ said it was listed out of the blue. He firmly and politely gave the stern message. I have read. I am ready. To hear. And decide. Those who choose to, may argue. Those who are comfortable with their names being printed, may say so. Those who do not want to argue and names not printed ( so that they can raise it as a ground in appeal – that they were condemned unheard) were also welcome. But hearing shall go on, and it did and cases decided. Come next week, the First Bench concurred. And within a month, the Supreme Court applauded the ‘scholarly verdict’. That was who he was.

A simple man. A honest man. One who breathed integrity. Ruthlessly time conscious. Self disciplined. Ideological, wore it on his sleeve, even if he may demur. Knowing him, he would smilingly agree to disagree.

KCsir and GRS do get disturbed. Angry too. After all, they are human. But, criticism sat lightly. There is no white or black in Neanderthals to Sapiens as Yuval Noah Harari would say in ‘ Homo Deus’. They are all in shades of grey. Only light or dark shades, which makes the difference, as Malcolm Gladwell says in ‘Talking to Strangers’

KCsir gave Farewell to Farewells in retirement. Walked of in solitude satisfied that he had earned the title ‘People’s Judge’. And quietly continued to contribute including as a Court Commissioner- pro bono- to secure the interests and assets of a mentally challenged Manoj Rajan. Kudos KCSir!

Why bring in GRS here? Because GRS appears to have imbibed from KCSir, as his junior commandant, he was in practice.They continue to be great friends. I know. Yet, KCSir dissents with many a GRS verdict. And he says so openly. But the differences are subsumed in their friendship. What converges is their devoted mantra for Justice – with a capital J.

GRS comes in early. Early enough to ‘sweep the floor’ as we colloquially say. Sits late enough to ‘Make the Bed m’ as Admiral William Mcraven wrote. In between, he listens. He does. He suffers fools too. Dictates. Reserves. Decides.

And he may well end up with 9,60,000 to KCsur’s 96,000. Who knows? And yet he gives a ‘patient hearing’. Very respectful and courteous. Which endears him to the Madurai Bar, a very difficult beast, to please.

And ungrudgingly, by accomadating the odd Adjournments too. You see, the practitioners’ are not eager to seek ‘A’. They are in a hurry to have their causes heard by Him. A huge difference.

GRS too has his ideology. At times, wears it on the sleeve, but many a time camouflages it, for the larger cause. To those who know, we know.

Just as in the pronouncements of KCSir, GRS’ ideology raises its head and hangs out – Not ugly. Just principled. Both are extremely well read. And continue to. Both are sporting enough to be receptive to criticism. They take it in their stride. They do not invoke contempt contemptuously to demonstrate their power from the pedestal. As if an Emperor, not just a Law Lord. They invoke it, when called for, sparingly,to do Justice.

This was meant to be an encomium to KCsir. It is. It has turned out to be a little different. Roping in GRS too. And KCsir will not mind. And Deservingly.

Despite being chalk and cheese, they converge beautifully, for the emergence of that craved for, yet elusive lady called – Blindfolded JUSTICE.

( Author is practising advocate in the Madras High Court)

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