NEW DELHI: A test drive on senior advocate Vikas Singh‘s Harley Davidson in Delhi resulted in injury to his leg.
A few months later, he could not eschew his love for the heavy bike and at Nagpur Raj Bhavan sat on a stationary Harley Davidson, inviting derisive criticism from advocate Prashant Bhushan.
The SC convicted Bhushan for contempt and made him pay Re 1 fine to escape prison term and suspension from practice.
Even before becoming CJI, Justice Bobde as part of the bench adjudicating the century-old Ayodhya land dispute, had mooted mediated solution to the litigation.
As Singh revealed, he had even solicited help from famous actor Shahrukh Khan, who had expressed his willingness to be part of it.
At the insistence of Justice Bobde, the Ayodhya bench had appointed former SC Judge F M I Kalifulla, spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravishankar and advocate Sriram Panchu.
It is another matter that the mediation failed and the bench gave a unanimous 5-0 verdict in favour of the temple.
Apart from his love for heavy bikes and sports like tennis and table tennis, Justice Bobde was an avid nature lover who brought it into the courtroom.
Be it tigress Avni or the great Indian Bustard, he always had an ear for their protection and passed orders for the protection of wildlife.
His frequent trips to wildlife sanctuaries were a talking point in the court corridors.
Coming from a family of generations of lawyers, starting from his great grandfather and the trend continuing with his daughter, Bobde became a lawyer in 1978 and earned the senior advocate designation in 1998.
He was appointed as Bombay HC Judge in march 2000 and went on to head Madhya Pradesh HC in 2012. He was appointed as an SC Judge in April 2013 and retires after eight years and 11 days, seventeen months of which as CJI. Unfortunately, 13 months were clouded by the Covid pandemic.
“I did my best. I do not know how it came across for others,” the CJI said on Friday. CJI-designate N V Ramana recalled the seminal contributions made by Justice Bobde and said he was a man of wit, humour and charm. AG KK Venugopal said CJI Bobde is too young and fit to retire and opined that CJIs should have a tenure of at least three years to implement all the reforms he envisions. Solicitor general Tushar Mehta said, “CJI Bobde was a decent man with a rare and amazing sense of humour.”
CJI Bobde and the e-Committee took a swift decision to transition from physical hearing to video-conferencing mode.
Compared to all other apex court courts across the world, the Indian SC worked the most during the pandemic and disposed of over 52,000 cases in the last year.
The covid cloudy year also saw the SC operating for a record number of days.
He presided over benches that ordered the release of prisoners from Jails to help decongest the prisons and reduce the chances of inmates getting infected by a coronavirus.
He also ensured that the mid-day meal scheme for children even when the schools were closed.
But, his swan song in the shape of judgments issuing guidelines to speed up criminal trials and cheque bouncing cases stuck in the system for decades, will go a long way in decongesting the pendency ridden judiciary.
He also headed a bench that set a definitive time limit for the appointment of HC judges.
However, he retires with a record that no CJI would like to have in future – not a single Judge’s appointment to the SC despite five vacancies.
Lack of consensus and leaving things to the last minute would leave him with the record of being the only CJI in history who did not appoint a single person as Judge to the SC.