The Chief Justice of India Dr. DY Chandrachud today lauded Justice KM Joseph for his work as a Supreme Court Judge. Justice Joseph is set to retire as the Apex Court Judge On June 16. The CJI said that his expertise on matters ranging from commercial law to Constitutional law will be missed.

While for Justice Ajay Rastogi, who would be demitting the office on June 17, CJI termed him as a great ally who possed judicial compassion and sensitivity for every cause.

Justice Rastogi, fourth in seniority at the apex court, was appointed a Supreme Court judge on November 02, 2018. He will retire during the summer vacation, having served as a Supreme Court judge for over four years.

Justice V Ramasubramanian will also demit office on June 29. These retirements will bring down the number of judges in the Supreme Court from 34 to 31.

Heading a ceremonial bench to bid farewell to Justice Joseph on his last working day as the apex court closes for summer vacation on May 22, the CJI said it is an honour for him to preside over such a bench but it is also coupled with nostalgia and sadness.

"Nostalgia because Joseph and I are childhood friends. Joseph was the first person who became my friend when I shifted to Delhi in August 1972...and I will be speaking more of that in the afternoon when we have the formal SCBA (Supreme Court Bar Association) farewell," Justice Chandrachud said.

Lauding Justice Joseph for the work done by him, the CJI said it has always been a pleasure to share the bench with Justice Joseph.

"I hear from young members of the Bar that they look forward to appearing before Justice Joseph because he is unfailingly patient with them," he said.

"Brother Joseph's expertise on matters ranging from commercial law to constitutional law will be missed. He will leave behind a great sense of continuity which he (Justice Joseph) inherited from his distinguished father, Justice K K Mathew (former apex court judge) and I know that you have left behind a huge collection of friends both on and off the bench," Justice Chandrachud said.

Justice Joseph expressed gratitude to the CJI as well as members of the Bar and said the Bar and the bench are the two sides of same coin.

"Because without the assistance of a Bar, which is sufficiently learned and experienced, this court ... can't render justice to the common man. Therefore, the assistance of the Bar is of great importance," he said.

For Justice Rastogi, the CJI said, "Brother Justice Rastogi, you personified in so many ways the judicial compassion and sensitivity to every cause which came before you. Brother Rastogi draws immense inspiration from his father Shri Harish Chandra Rastogi who was also an eminent civil lawyer in the same court."

Justice Chandrachud said he often relied on Justice Rastogi's expertise on civil, service and labour laws, among other things.

"Indeed there was a sense of relief and assurance when we see your name in the roster handling these cases or your name as the author of the judgement...," he said, adding, "Brother Rastogi and I sat for a very long period of time in 2019 and 2020 and we shared both on and off the bench a very interesting time and it was a sheer pleasure to sit with you."

The CJI said the outgoing judge was a source of immense support and strength in the collegiums.

"Justice Rastogi was and has always been a great ally not only for me as a judge and the Chief Justice of India but to the Supreme Court. We are deeply grateful to you for your service , for your commitment and your dedication, brother Rastogi," he said.

In his short farewell address, Justice Rastogi thanked members of the bar and bench. "I don't know whether I deserve all these (compliments) or not but I am very thankful for all the words spoken for me."

The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) will be holding the farewell function for Justice Rastogi and two other judges as Friday is the last working day before the summer vacation starts on May 22.

With PTI Inputs