Outgoing Chief Justice of India TS Thakur said it was incumbent on the legal fraternity to uphold the independence of judiciary, as he pointed to pendency of three crore cases, poor judge-to-population ratio and problems of infrastructure.
Thakur, who had a long battle with the Modi government on the appointment of judges, said, "This country can't progress unless the judiciary prepares itself to handle challenges it would face in cases regarding cyber laws and medico legal cases."
Supreme Court Bar Association vice-president Ajit Sinha assured Thakur: "We will not allow any unjustified entry into judiciary. We as a bar will take a first blow."
Addressing an overwhelming gathering of lawyers, and sitting and retired judges, the CJI, who had his last working day in the top court on Tuesday, said, "I will continue to work for upholding the prestige of the sanctum santorum of the Supreme Court."
Thakur, who appeared emotional on his final day, said that he would be a "spectator, observer and contributor to pay back what the institution has given to him" post-retirement.
Thanking God, his parents, teachers, colleagues and everybody for what he became in life, Thakur urged lawyers to desist from being in the race to be a judge or to be designated as senior lawyer.
Telling the legal eagles to let these recognitions — becoming a judge or designated as senior counsel — "come uninvited", he said every case was a new challenge for the lawyers and they had to live up to the expectations of their clients.
"Why should a lawyer want to be a judge when he is saturated with work?" he asked. "You have to raise yourself to a level where destiny itself beacons you."
He told young lawyers that by taking every case as a challenge and preparing it well would earn them the respect of the bench (judges) and even their opponents.
The farewell organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association saw everyone — Chief Justice Thakur, Chief Justice designate Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, SCBA president RS Suri, its vice-president Ajit Sinha and secretary Gaurav Bhati — reciting couplets from Urdu poets. However, it were legendry Urdu poets Allama Iqbal and Mirza Ghalib that dominated proceedings, with everyone reciting a couplet in praise of the outgoing chief justice.