In India and elsewhere, when a High Court Judge retires, it is usual for all the judges of the High Court would to assemble a meeting in the Court of the Chief justice and the Advocate General would deliver a farewell speech followed by a photo session, high tea and dinner in a five-star hotel. However, Justice K. Chandru, who served as a judge of the Madras High Court for the past sevens years, did not want this ritual farewell. In a letter to the acting chief justice R K Agrawal, dated February 8, 2013, Justice Chandru requested him not to order the farewell ritual for him as he would like to leave office quietly.
The last time a judge declined a farewell function was in 1929, when Justice Jackson told the Advocate General, “I have done my job; where is the question of a farewell for me?”
Friday, March 8, was the last day in office for Justice Chandru. He submitted a copy of his ‘voluntary declaration of assets’ to acting Chief Justice R K Agrawal. After returning to his chambers, he signed a few documents. From there he went to the press room and e spent a few happy moments with the journalists who had assembled there, answering their queries.
After leaving the court premises, he walked up to Sangeetha Restaurant across NSC Bose Road. A group of friends was waiting there, and he had coffee with them. From there he walked up to the Beach Station and boarded a suburban MRTS train bound for Velacherry.
Posted as an Additional Judge of the High Court on July 31, 2006 , Justice K. Chandru became a Permanent Judge on November 9, 2009. He had disposed of nearly 96,000 cases, both at the Principal Seat and at the Madurai Bench. He is altogether a different kind of Judge. Known for his simplicity, he shunned some of the accoutrements that usually accompanied a Judge. He disliked pomp and pageantry. He was a role model for others.
- He dispensed with the practice of his duffedar carrying a mace while escorting him to the court and returning to his chamber.
- He did not have a gun-toting personal security officer (PSO) beside him.
- He did not have official servants at home.
- He did not approve lawyers calling him “my lord”.
Justice Chandru would be remembered for several of his landmark judgments including a ruling that women could become priests in Hindu temples.
Regrettably, the websites of Madras High Court that carry the bio data of its judges has no links to details about Justice K. Chandru. For example, the page, “The Honourable Judges of the Madras High Court,” lists the name of 48 judges, but Justice Chandru’s name though listed does not link to any page with details about him. With his retirement, the strength of the Madras High Court has come down to 47 judges while the sanctioned strength is 60.
A notice displayed at the entrance to his chamber declared:
“No deities – no Flowers
No one is hungry – no Fruits
No one is shivering—no Shawls
We need only best wishes”
- Author of several landmark judgments calls it a day (thehindu.com)
- People’s judge takes train home after last day at work (timesofindia.indiatimes.com)
- Justice Chandru says no to farewell (deccanchronicle.com)