Justice A.S. Bopanna retires from Supreme Court
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Justice A.S. Bopanna retires from Supreme Court

May 18, 2024

Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud bids special farewell in Kodava Thakk, a language designated as endangered by UNESCO

New Delhi: Supreme Court Judge, Justice Ajjikuttira Somaiah Bopanna on Friday bid adieu to the Apex Court on his last working day before his formal retirement on May 19.

Hailing from Kodagu district, known for its natural beauty and as the birthplace of India’s two celebrated Army Generals — the first and third army chiefs, Field Marshal Kodandera M. Cariappa and General Kodandera S. Thimayya, Justice Bopanna was unequivocally praised by lawyers.

They lauded him as the calmest judge, possessing an ‘understudied elegance’ whose characteristics could serve as the benchmark for selecting judges for the constitutional courts.

Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud termed Justice Bopanna as an invaluable colleague, who was a good judge and a compassionate human being. “When I requested him to head a tribunal post-retirement, he declined saying he wanted to be liberated from judicial work. Justice Bopanna has an understudied elegance that sits well with his high standard of integrity, proficiency and diligence,” he said.

Justice Chandrachud bid a special farewell to Justice Bopanna in Kodava Thakk, a language designated as an endangered language by UNESCO.

Speaking a few words in Kodava Thakk, the Chief Justice reverted to English and said, “Justice Bopanna, you are a great judge, human being and worthy friend. He is known for punctuality and diligence and was the Mr. Dependable. He was known in the Karnataka HC to seldom take leave. He had to take a short break here but always had his heart back in his chamber here and coordinated with staff and clerks. He is punctual to the T and quickly resumed. Many have said they have to reset their clocks to match his punctuality. He has never been averse to new ideas and technologies. He allowed family court proceedings through Skype.”

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Justice Bopanna is the son of late A.N. Somaiah, a prominent politician belonging to the erstwhile Janata Party, who served as a member of the Karnataka Legislative Council a few decades ago.

Justice Bopanna enrolled as an advocate on Nov. 21, 1984, and practised Civil, Constitutional, Company and Service matters. In 2006, he was elevated as an additional judge of the Karnataka High Court and became a permanent judge on Mar. 1, 2007. He was elevated as Chief Justice of Gauhati High Court on October 29, 2018 and as a judge of the Supreme Court on May 24, 2019.

In his speech, Justice Bopanna asked lawyers to “Carry a heart that never hates, carry a smile that never faints, carry a touch that never hurts.”

Talking about his journey in SC, he said, “Sachin Tendulkar, when he was asked about his century of centuries, said when I go to bat the next time in the next match, I have to again start from zero. It was a similar experience for me in the Supreme Court. Each day was a new day.”

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