HAT can be more unfortunate than not being able to sit in court on my last working day”, said an obviously emotional Justice Govind Mathur who demitted the office of the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court on April 13.
“On being tested COVID19 positive, unfortunately, I lost my precious last five working days, I am attending this ceremony too from my residence. I am not having the opportunity to sit in court on my last working day”, Justice Mathur said while speaking during a full-court reference held in his honour.
Justice Mathur originally hailed from the Rajasthan High Court and was appointed as a judge to his parent court on September 2, 2004. He was then transferred from there to the Allahabad High Court on November 21, 2017. He was appointed as the Acting Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court on October 24, 2018, and finally confirmed to office of CJ on November 14, 2018.
During his tenure as CJ, Justice Mathur dealt with a number of cases involving life and liberty. A bench led by him quashed the detention of Dr. Kafeel Khan under the National Security Act (NSA). In another case, he took suo motu cognisance of the UP government’s decision to name and shame anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 protesters by putting up banner with their names. He found it to be a violation of the fundamental right to privacy and without any authority of law. He also passed a slew of directions for giving relief to migrant workers after the announcement of the lockdown last year.
In his speech, Justice Mathur revealed that it was he who had made a request to the then Chief Justice of India SH Kapadia to transfer him from Rajasthan to someplace else, and that had culminated into his transfer to India’s largest high court – Allahabad.
Also Read: Govind Mathur, Chief Justice of the Allahabad HC, retires; Was a defender of core constitutional values
Referring to Dr. Amedkar with who Justice Mathur shares his birthday, he said Ambedkar had been the “God of Gareeb”, whose ideas, which are reflected in the Constitution, were cherished by him.
“Ours is a multi-class society and our Constitution takes care of every segment of the people; and when it refers to sovereignty, secularism, socialism and democracy, then the echo in the atmosphere is the upliftment of the poor, dignity to the deprived and equal status to every citizen”, Justice Mathur said.
Speaking on the criticism of the Allahabad HC for its huge case pendency, Justice Mathur said there was no doubt there was a big backlog, but he had noticed that the disposal of cases in the high court and the courts subordinate to it was much higher than any other court in the country.
“The judges of the subordinate judiciary, as well as the judges of the high court, are discharging their duties with great commitment, dedication and honesty. The pendency here is to be compared with the influx of cases. In fact looking at the variety and volume of work undertaken, every member of the judicial system of Uttar Pradesh must feel proud for their capacity to meet the same. I have absolute faith in them for carrying the justice delivery system ahead effectively despite all odds”, Justice Mathur said.
He thanked Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for giving Allahabad a National Law University.
Justice Mathur also extended his gratitude to the former Chief Justice of the Rajasthan High Court, Anil Deo Singh, who found him suitable for judgeship.
“I tried to perform my duties to the best of my ability, knowledge, and judgment, without fear and favour, affection or ill-will. In short, I tried to live up to the solemn oath that I took on 2nd September 2004, 21st November, 2017 and 14th November 2018. Whether I failed or succeeded, is for all of you to judge”, Justice Mathur said.
Before parting, Justice Mathur thanked every member of his court, registry, and staff for supporting him throughout.
Acknowledging his wife’s support, Justice Mathur said whatever he achieved was because of her.