Supreme Court judge Justice Khanwilkar retires

Justice A M Khanwilkar, the second senior-most judge of the Supreme Court, retired on Friday and thanked bar association leaders for their “love and affection”.

“As parting words I will only say thank you to all for the love and affection. Thank you so much. God bless you,” Justice Khanwilkar said.

He was sitting with Chief Justice N V Ramana and two other judges at the time of the rising of the ceremonial bench. Justice Khanwilkar, who was elevated as the apex court judge on May 13, 2016, delivered several path-breaking judgements and was part of benches which rendered many important verdicts during his over five-year-long tenure.

Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president and senior advocate Vikas Singh recalled his association with Justice Khanwilkar as an apex court lawyer and judge of the high court and the Supreme Court.

“It is always difficult for us when a judge retires. It is more difficult when a judge, who has been part of us, retires. He has been there as a colleague of ours. As members of this Bar, we used to share our chambers in the same corridor in the Supreme Court. We saw him rise to become a High Court judge then come back here as the Supreme Court judge,” Singh said.

Terming Justice Khanwilkar as “workaholic”, the SCBA president said the Bar feels that the age of 65 years is very young for a Supreme Court judge to retire and “at 70 should definitely be there”.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared through virtual mode due to coronavirus infection, said the Attorney General is also down with COVID-19 and hence he would be expressing the views on Justice Khanwilkar.

“We will really miss Justice Khanwilkar. We will miss the smile on his face. Everyone will agree with me that even while dismissing a petition, he would do this with a smile on his face and we never left the courtroom with bitterness,” the law officer said.

Many senior advocates including Harish Salve and Mukul Rohatgi were present on the occasion.

“It has been an honour and pleasure of knowing My Lord Justice Khanwilkar now for almost four decades as a colleague…and then appearing before him in a different avatar…I would say only one thing that please treat it as the beginning of a second inning and not a retirement,” Salve said.

The SCBA would hold a function in the evening to formally bid farewell to Justice Khanwilkar.

Justice Khanwilkar has been part of several path-breaking verdicts including in the Aadhaar case and the one upholding SIT’s clean chit to then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and 63 others in the 2002 riots. He also penned the verdict upholding the Enforcement Directorate’s powers to arrest, attach property, search and seize under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and was part of several constitution benches of the apex court which delivered important judgements.

Born on July 30, 1957 in Pune, Justice Khanwilkar did LLB from a law college in Mumbai. He was enrolled as an advocate in February 1982 and later appointed an additional judge of the Bombay High Court on March 29, 2000. He was appointed the Chief Justice of the High Court of Himachal Pradesh on April 4, 2013, and later the Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court on November 24, 2013.

Justice Khanwilkar was elevated as a judge of the Supreme Court and he assumed charge on May 13, 2016.

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