Thursday, September 23, 2010

Judges who will deliver the Ayodhya verdict

The Ayodhya verdict is scheduled to be delivered on Friday, unless last-minute interventions come through. The Union government has appealed for calm and banned the transmission of bulk SMS and MMS to avert the spread of mischievous rumours. TAPAS CHAKRABORTY portrays the three judges – and their life away from the bench and law books — who are on the threshold of delivering the judgment, in The Telegraph.

Read the whole article here.

Armed policemen stand guard outside 24 Gautam Pally — the address in the heart of Lucknow that houses a 62-year-old judge.

Justice Dharam Veer Sharma, the senior-most judge on the special bench of Allahabad High Court that is due to give its verdict on September 24, shares the house with his elder sister.

... ...

Colleagues speak of his austere lifestyle.


Spondylitis has caused him immense physical discomfort in the past few months.


Sharma graduated in arts in 1967 and got his law degree in 1970 from a college in Bulandshahr. In 1972, he got through the judicial service to become a district court judge.

Before joining Allahabad High Court, he had worked as the chief law officer, Uttar Pradesh Financial Corporation, Kanpur Nagar, from July 1989 to October 1991 and then as joint secretary, legal remembrance, for the state government in the late nineties.


In 2002, he was promoted as district and sessions judge, and joined the Lucknow bench of the high court in 2005.

Justice Sudhir Agarwal, at 52 the youngest of the three judges on the special bench, could not have been more dissimilar to Justice Sharma. He’s well turned out, likes to read comics and watch soaps on TV, and enjoys spending time with friends from the Bar and the Bench.

Unlike the senior judge, who sticks to Hindi, Justice Agarwal is mostly heard speaking in English even outside the courtroom.

The judge, who lives with his wife and children on Beli Road in Allahabad, is known for his incisive and precise judgments.


Agarwal graduated with science from Agra University in 1977, then studied law at Meerut University, earning his degree in 1980. He joined the Allahabad High Court Bar in October the same year. Starting out as a tax advocate, he later shifted to service laws.


“His verdicts are always marked by earthy legal wisdom and rarely contradicted by the Supreme Court,” an advocate said.

Justice Sibghat Ullah Khan, the third member of the special bench, was Justice Agarwal’s colleague in the Allahabad High Court Bar and is known for his razor-sharp wit. “He has always been aided by a strong sense of history and the role of law in altering history. He is not ready to put a foot wrong,” says advocate D.P. Gupta.

Justice Khan, 58, earned his law degree from Aligarh Muslim University in 1975 and enrolled himself as an advocate the same year. He specialised in the civil, service and revenue areas of law for 25 years before being elevated as permanent judge of Allahabad High Court in 2002.


Originally from Etah in western Uttar Pradesh, the judge now lives with his wife and children on Dramond Road in Allahabad. He lives a simple life, is usually turned out in shirt and trousers in sober colours and equally at ease in Hindi and English.

Known to push for out-of-court settlements of civil cases, he is said to have settled 2,000 cases through negotiations. Justice Khan, who was not even born when the Ayodhya title dispute was brought to court 60 years ago, has been vocal in asking the advocates to let the special bench deliver the verdict this week and not delay it any further.

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