On the occasion of the Bombay High Court’s 150th Anniversary, the author pays rich tribute to the judicial independence and integrity of the Bombay High Court and recollects the stellar contribution of the tax professionals in bringing glory to the High Court. This is the time for all professionals to re-dedicate themselves to the cause of the Judiciary exhorts the author
The Bombay High Court, which was established on August 14, 1862 & entered into the 150th year on 14th August 2011. On this auspicious day a memorable function was held at Bombay High Court to mark the beginning of the sesquicentennial celebration of the Bombay High Court.
Bombay High Court as an institution has produced what can be described as galaxy of legal luminaries. The publication titled “The Bombay High Court -The story of building – 1878-2003”. In the foreword written by then Hon’ble Chief Justice of Bombay High Court Mr. C. K. Thakker reads as under “There are, too men who became legends in their own life times, perhaps most of all M. C. Chagla. The Lawyers from this Court have shone bright and long in the legal firmament: Sir Dinshaw Mulla, the doyen of Indian jurisprudence, Sir Jamshedji Kanga, Nani Palkhivala, H. M. Seervai, C. K. Daphtary, Sir Chimanlal Setalvad, Motilal Setalwad and others” – “As much as the Judges, it is the Bombay Bar that has given the Bombay High Court its unique culture and reputation. This is a Bar that is fiercely – even frighteningly – independent. It is unforgiving of moral and legal transgressions amongst itself and its judges and yet, strangely, is gentle Bar that adopts as its own every judge who sits here”.
In those dark days, the battle for democracy was fought by many people in many different ways. Many of us in politics under the leadership of Jayaprakash Narayanan fought it in prisons. But I have no doubt that one of the finest battles was fought in the court rooms and that fighter was Nani Palkhivala
Speaking on the occasion, Hon’ble Chief Justice of India, Mr. S. H. Kapadia stated that “Judicial integrity will always be above judicial independence”. His Lordship also stated that “Judges of integrity need not fear the National Judicial Commission or a Judicial Accountability Bill”. Hon’ble Chief Justice of India also launched a facility for online filing of petitions. It would do away with the need to stand in long queues during fixed hours for filing petition.
Hon’ble Chief Justice of Bombay High Court Mr. Mohit Shah speaking on the occasion pointed out that the Bombay High Court has given eight Chief Justices to the Country.
Hon’ble Law Minister Mr. Salman Khurshid speaking on the occasion stated that “Best of the lot” among the students was neither coming to the Bar nor the Bench. Hon’ble Minister stated that “The gain of India’s corporate is the loss of India’s Bar”. He stated that younger lot should focus on contesting litigations than working for corporate house.
Hon’ble Chief Minister of Maharashtra Mr. Pritviraj Chavan stated that “Country’s legal system was one of the important factors in giving India an edge over China.”
Hon’ble Attorney General of India Mr. Goolam E. Vahanvati, speaking on the occasion took the gathering to the Court’s history. He stated that “I have seen this court at best … Once you have practiced here, you will fall in love. It is one love affair which is forever”
On proposing vote of thanks Hon’ble Additional Solicitor General Mr. Darius Khambatta stated that “What is needed is a system of checks and balances to affirm the positive values”.
In the 150th year of Bombay High Court and 65th year of Independence one cannot forget the contribution of Tax Bar of Mumbai. On the occasion of release of Commemorative Postage Stamp of Shri N. A. Palkhivala on 16-1-2004, then Prime Minister of India Hon’ble Atal Behari Vajpayee stated as under:-
“In those dark days, the battle for democracy was fought by many people in many different ways. Many of us in politics under the leadership of Jayaprakash Narayanan fought it in prisons. But I have no doubt that one of the finest battles was fought in the court rooms and that fighter was Nani Palkhivala”.
All the three stalwarts led the Tax Bar in intellect, clarity and integrity. They have provided a valuable legacy in the form of their juniors who today, have emulated these three stalwarts in the above virtues and who, in turn, today are the leaders of the Tax Bar
Citizens of this country cannot forget the contribution of Shri Palkhivala to preserving the basic structure of Constitution of India. We are very fortunate that one of the greatest lawyers of our country Shri Palkhivala was President of Income Tax Appellate Tribunal Bar Association from 1967 to 2002. As a remembrance to him the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal Bar Association, in association with All India Federation of Tax Practitioners and Government Law College, Mumbai is organizing yearly National Tax Moot Court Competition since 2003, and this year’s Palkhivala Memorial National Tax Moot Court Competition will be dedicated to the 150 years of Bombay High Court, so that the law students across the country will have the benefit of knowing the Contribution of Bombay High Court to the Nation.
We are also proposing to bring out few publications dedicated to 150 Years of Bombay High Court.
Hon’ble Chief Justice of India Mr. S. H. Kapadia, then as Judge of Bombay High Court in a Message dated June 9, 2003. My Tribute to stalwarts of Tax Bar wrote as under:- (AIFTP Journal – August, 2003 P. 4)
“In the field of Income Tax Law, out of few Luminaries, three legends; i.e., Late Shri R. J. Kolah, Late Shri S. P. Mehta and Late Shri Nani Palkhivala, who devoted their professional practice to the field of Direct Tax Laws. I deem it a great privilege to have been requested by All India Federation of Tax Practitioners to forward to them my tribute to the above stalwarts in the form of a message for their publication.
All the three stalwarts led the Tax Bar in intellect, clarity and integrity. They have provided a valuable legacy in the form of their juniors who today, have emulated these three stalwarts in the above virtues and who, in turn, today are the leaders of the Tax Bar.
I was lucky to have seen the three stalwarts in action when they were not so young and yet, after hearing them for few moments, I came out of the Court with the following words which flashed across my mind.
“The spirit knows no youth or age, no fatigue or death.”
These are the qualities and virtues which should inspire our young professional lawyers and I am happy to state that, even today, in the Tax Bar practicing in the High Court, there are young professional lawyers who are following in the footsteps of these three legends.”
On the occasion of 150th year of Bombay High Court, all three stalwarts of Tax Bar deserves a special remembrance and Tribute from the Tax Bar and Bench.
Hon’ble Law Minister desired that there has to be speedy and affordable justice. In this regard at the Tribunal Members’ Conference at Mumbai on 30-7-2011, the ITAT Bar Association has suggested various measures. If the same are accepted and implemented the desire of the Hon’ble Law Minister can be achieved and citizens of our country will get speedy and affordable Justice. As regards the encouragement to young lawyers to join the litigation practice, Palkhivala Memorial National Tax Moot Court Competition conducted yearly is an honest attempt of the tax Bar to encourage young lawyers to join the litigation practice.
Common citizens of the country believe that it is only because of independent, vibrant judicial activism; the Government machinery is made to work hence let us pledge and dedicate to the judiciary by making an honest attempt to bring in speedy justice delivery system by constructive suggestions and representations. For Judges, Judicial integrity will always be above judicial independence similarly for professionals, values, ethics and integrity are important qualities of good professional which will be admired by the professional colleagues and respected by the Bench.
In my 34 years of practice, I found especially in the branch of taxation, judges have always encouraged and motivated the Junior members of the Bar hence, on the occasion of 150th year of Bombay High Court on behalf of the Tax Bar I salute the Bombay High Court, stalwarts and leaders of Tax Bar.
Readers may send their view to the office of Federation for making a representation in an appropriate forum.
Reproduced with permission from the AIFTP Journal, August 2011