CJI terms outgoing SC judge Rastogi a great ally’ who possessed judicial compassion

 Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud Friday termed Justice Ajay Rastogi, who will be demitting office on June 17, a “great ally” who possessed judicial compassion and sensitivity for every cause.

Justice Rastogi, fourth in seniority at the apex court, was appointed a Supreme Court judge on November 02, 2018. He will retire during the summer vacation, having served as a Supreme Court judge for over four years.

Besides Justice Rastogi, Justices K M Joseph, third in seniority at the Bench, and Justice V Ramasubramanian will also demit office on June 16 and June 29 respectively. These retirements will bring down the number of judges in the Supreme Court from 34 to 31.

With the swearing in of Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra and senior advocate Kalpathy Venkataraman Viswanathan on Friday, the top court regained its full strength for a brief period.

Heading the ceremonial bench, set up to bid farewell to Justice Rastogi, the CJI hailed his contribution to the bench and the collegiums.

“Brother Justice Rastogi, you personified in so many ways the judicial compassion and sensitivity to every cause which came before you. Brother Rastogi draws immense inspiration from his father Shri Harish Chandra Rastogi who was also an eminent civil lawyer in the same court,” the CJI said.

Justice Chandrachud said he often relied on Justice Rastogi’s expertise on civil, service and labour laws, among other things.

“Indeed there was a sense of relief and assurance when we see your name in the roster handling these cases or your name as the author of the judgement…,” he said, adding,”Brother Rastogi and I sat for a very long period of time in 2019 and 2020 and we shared both on and off the bench a very interesting time and it was a sheer pleasure to sit with you.”

The CJI said the outgoing judge was a source of immense support and strength in the collegiums.

“Justice Rastogi was and has always been a great ally not only for me as a judge and the Chief Justice of India but to the Supreme Court. We are deeply grateful to you for your service , for your commitment and your dedication, brother Rastogi,” he said.

In his short farewell address, Justice Rastogi thanked members of the bar and bench. “I don’t know whether I deserve all these (compliments) or not but I am very thankful for all the words spoken for me.”

The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) will be holding the farewell function for Justice Rastogi and two other judges as Friday is the last working day before the summer vacation starts on May 22.

Several bar leaders including Attorney General R Venketaramani and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta also lauded Justice Rastogi.

Born on June 18, 1958, Justice Rastogi followed in the footsteps of his father late Harish Chandra Rastogi, who was an eminent civil lawyer in Rajasthan High Court, and joined the bar in 1982.

Justice Rastogi practised in different spheres of law and specialised in constitutional and service laws.

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He was nominated as the standing counsel for the Rajasthan High Court in 1990 and continued in the position till his elevation as high court judge in 2004.

He was the executive chairman of the State Legal Services Authority from October 14, 2013 to October 18, 2016.

He was appointed as the administrative Judge of the Rajasthan High Court on July 19, 2014 and continued till his elevation as the Chief Justice of the Tripura High Court on March 01, 2018.

He was elevated as judge of the Supreme Court on November 02, 2018.

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