by Sarita Bhatnagar
It is a period when the country is facing a crisis of governance in most of its statutory and constitutional establishments, and when a spate of litigations over corruption and arbitrary use of discretion are pending before the highest judicial forum. It is also a period when there will be change of guard in the office of the Chief Justice of India.
As the current workaholic and disciplinarian, Chief Justice S H Kapadia, lays down office on September 28, the senior-most judge, Justice Altamas Kabir, will take over the hammer from one of the most efficient judicial figures to have headed the top judicial position in post-Independence India.
Before Justice Kabir’s expected elevation as the Chief Justice of India, there have been three more CJIs belonging to the minority Muslim community—M Hidyatulla (1968), Mohammad Hammedullah Beg (1977) and A M Ahmadi (1994).
But it has never been felt that caste, creed or faith ever weighed in favour of any party. What has been the main concern for dispensation is the rule of law, equity and natural justice. Known for his sobriety and soft speech, Kabir enjoys a distinct persona. As some court watchers put it, he belongs to a world that is known to be slow, measured and gentlemanly. He represents the Bengali ‘bhadralok’, reflecting a fine, cultured and broad-minded intellect.
Unlike Justice Kapadia, whose story is no less than that of one moving from the ‘log cabin to the White House’, since he started his career as a clerk at a lawyer’s office in Mumbai, Kabir has his roots in an aristocratic Muslim family of landed gentry. Belonging to Faridpur, now in Bangladesh, it was where titles, social popularity, opulence, influence and elite education came naturally. He studied in the crème la crème institutions: Mount Hermon School in Darjeeling, Calcutta Boys School and Presidency College in Kolkata. He could have joined politics as he had enough role models within his family. He grew up under the umbrella of his uncle, Humayun Kabir, who had studied at Oxford and was a close associate of Congress president Maulana Abul Kalam Azad…..READMORE