Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, the second-most senior judge of the Supreme Court, retired on Thursday, reported PTI.
Justice Nariman delivered several landmark verdicts, including the declaration of privacy as a fundamental right and striking down Section 66A of the Information Technology Act that empowered the police to arrest citizens for their social media posts.
Chief Justice of India NV Ramana bid farewell to Justice Nariman, saying that the judiciary will miss his knowledge and intellect.
“With brother Nariman’s retirement, I feel like I am losing one of the lions that guarded the judicial institution; one of the strong pillars of the contemporary judicial system,” Ramana said. “He is a man of principles and is committed to what is right.”
The chief justice added: “All I can state is that with judgments like Shreya Singhal [dealing with Section 66A of IT Act], his opinions in Puttaswamy [regarding the right to privacy] and Shayara Bano [barring the practice of triple talaq], he has left an indelible mark on the jurisprudence of the country.”
In view of Justice Nariman’s exit, Ramana wondered if age of the judges was the appropriate measure to decide their tenure and time of retirement.
The chief justice noted that Justice Nariman has disposed of nearly 13,565 cases. He added that Justice Nariman, who practised as an advocate for over 35 years, was only the fifth lawyer to be directly appointed as judge of the Supreme Court in 2014.
Justice Nariman was also part of the Supreme Court judgement that ended the colonial-era law criminalising homosexuality and a five-judge bench that ruled women between 10 and 50 years cannot be stopped from entering the Sabarimala Temple in Kerala.
Born on October 13, 1956, Justice Nariman became a senior advocate at the age of 37. In 1993, the then Chief Justice of India MN Venkatachalaiah amended the court’s rules to designate him as a senior advocate at the age of 37, from the mandatory 45.
He was appointed the solicitor general in 2011 and continued with the post till 2013. Justice Nariman graduated from Shri Ram College of Commerce and completed his Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Delhi. He then went to Harvard Law School.
The judge also practised maritime law in New York for a year. He then joined the Bar as an advocate in 1979.
On his last working day on Thursday, Justice Nariman sat with the chief justice in court number 1 of the Supreme Court, a tradition for retiring judges.