Friday, 27 May 2016

A meeting with Jayalalitha

This incident happened shortly I retired as a Judge of the Supreme Court in September 2011.
I was the Chief Justice of Madras High Court for about one year ( 2004-2005 ), but even thereafter have retained close ties with the High Court and the people of Tamilnadu. Maybe in my previous birth ( which I do not believe in ) I was a Tamilian.

 When I was Acting Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court I met the then Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, and requested him to grant an amount of Rs. 5000 ( apart from their pension ) to all retired Judges of Allahabad High Court for engaging a multi purpose domestic servant ( who knew not only cooking, washing etc. but also driving a car ). He had immediately acceded to my request.

 So I wanted a similar allowance to be given to retired Judges of Madras High Court. Normally no one cares for retired Judges, but they are often old and infirm, and need more help than sitting Judges.

I went to Chennai some time in 2012 or 2013 ( after retiring from the Supreme Court ) to attend some function. There I sought an appointment with the Chief Minister Jayalalitha, which was granted immediately.

I went to the Secretariat, and was taken to her office, perhaps on the second floor.

On entering her office room, I was greeted by Jayalalitha, who was sitting across her office table. No other politician was there, but there were several senior officials, the Chief Secretary, Home Secretary, etc. in the room, sitting on chairs in front of the side wall. She introduced me to them, and then asked me to sit on aa chair across her office table. I was offered tea..

 I said to her " Madam, before I tell you what I have come for, let me tell you that I respect you, because when I was Chief Justice here, and you were the Chief Minister, you respected the independence of the judiciary. You never asked me to recommend any name for appointment as Judge of the High Court, and never tried to interfere with my functioning in any way ".( I did not tell her how the DMK had behaved in this connection ).

 She was happy to hear this.

 Then I placed before her the Memorandum I had brought, requesting for an allowance to retired Judges of Madras High Court to engage a domestic servant, and told her what I had done for retired Judges of Allahabad High Court.I told her that retired Judges are more in need of help than sitting Judges, as they are older, often infirm.

She said she would certainly look into it, and a few weeks later acceded to my request. All retired Madras High Court Jiudges are now getting this allowance.

 I then told her that I was told she knew Hindi. At this she smiled, and said ' थोड़ा बहुत जानती हूँ ( 'Thoda bahut jaanti hoon ' i.e. I know a bit ), and started speaking in fluent Hindi.

 I was momentarily tempted to say that she looked beautiful ( which I do believe ), but then I checked my impulse. She may have taken offence, and discretion is the better part of valour.

 The meeting ended in very cordial terms.

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