Justice (Retd.) S. D. Anand is a former Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, a former Judicial Member as well as the Head of the Department of the Central Administrative Tribunal, Chandigarh, Chairman, Statutory Fee and Admission Committee for the State of Haryana and the former President of the Appellate Authority, Pollution Control, Haryana. He obtained his degree in law from Law College, Punjab University, Chandigarh. We were privileged to have him converse about his journey.
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Can you tell us about your journey of law?
My journey as a part of the Justice Delivery System was very satisfying and full of contentment. I joined the magistracy, graduated to the Higher Judicial Service and was elevated thereafter as a Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Subsequently, I functioned as a Judicial Member of the Central Administrative Tribunal, Chandigarh Bench, Chandigarh. Thereafter, I was appointed as the Chairman of the Statutory Fee and Admission Committee for Haryana. Further, I was appointed as the President of the Appellate Authority, Pollution Control, Haryana. Initially, there was paucity of infrastructural facilities in the Judicial Courts. That however, did not affect my sense of commitment towards my responsibilities. I was the youngest magistrate, at that time, across India and, in fact, I had to wait for more than a year so as to attain the minimum required age before joining service.
What motivated you to pursue the judiciary?
I have the privilege of being a fourth generation lawman. In my early years, I was highly inspired while I used to watch my father, who himself was a judicial officer, going to the Court. At the evening tea, there was a practice of my father sharing whatever relevant had transpired in the Court during the course of the day. My elder sister, Justice Kiran Anand Lall, was the first lady judicial officer in the State of Haryana. All these factors enhanced my desire to join the judiciary. Aiming to be a judicial officer was never really a professional pursuit. My aim was to join the adjudicatory infrastructure wherein I could do justice and uphold the rule of law.
What challenges, if any, did you face in the profession and how did you overcome them?
I did not face any challenges in the course of my functioning, given my in-built desire of joining judiciary and the encouragement received from my family. I believe that a judicial officer must carry himself in a manner that none, at any level, would even conceptualize interference with your judicial functioning.
How important is it, as per you, for one to gain some experience as an advocate before aiming for the judiciary?
I would answer it by quoting my personal example. The moment I attained the age of eligibility for appearing at the examination, I competed and was blessed with success, as a topper of my batch, and joined the Justice Delivery System. I did not have any mentionable experience as an Advocate but that did not affect my functioning as a member of the Justice Delivery System. It was particularly so because in the adversorial judicial system, a judicial officer will have the advantage of perusing the pleadings drafted by competent and experienced lawyers and, then, would also get to be addressed by good lawyers during the course of hearing. Just that you have to be dedicated to devote yourself to be cause of justices.
What should be a judicial aspirant’s key focus?
An aspirant of the judicial services must adopt a dedicatory approach. Being up-to-date with what is happening on the legal front in the country would go a long way in familiarizing the aspirant with the judicial pronouncements of the Apex Court and the High Courts. It is expected that the question paper may have certain judicial pronouncements as the cue to the various questions. For purposes of getting through the Preliminary Examination, being a regular reader of newspapers would be required. Additionally, a good book on general knowledge will also be helpful. Being focused is more important than spending large hours on the study. Additionally, proficiency in the language will always be an advantage.
I’ve observed many a times that the interviews sometimes changes the outcome of the written examination. I personally believe that performance at the written examination must not be allowed to be completely outdone by the interview. Judicial officers have to function in the Courts wherein they would be assisted by good lawyers by way of pleadings and argument during the course of hearing. A judicial officer, has to have the patience to hear the rival parties and to absorb the contentions canvassed during the course of hearing. Thus, by and large, interview would not appear to have any particular relativity with the choice of candidates for appointment as a judicial officer. Mine was the last batch in Haryana that did not have interviews for recruitment into the judiciary. I must not be misunderstood to flaw the interview system on the whole. An interview can determine the capability of a candidate for other services. However, I must make it clear that this is my personal view.
Any parting advice for law students and judicial aspirants?
People have often highlighted the uncertainty connected with the legal profession. My first and foremost piece of advice for the budding lawyers would be to avoid listening to depressive sentiments of that type. Each profession, be it a business or any identical venture, would have an element of uncertainty but it must not deter a lawyer to refrain from pursuing legal practice as a profession. If a lawyer gets to be a part of a good office, it will help him in every respect, financially and also for the purpose of gaining experience. In that context, the Bar Councils could also consider the feasibility of payment of a reasonable amount, as a stipend or by whatever nomenclature, to lawyers with less than five years practice. Larger empanelment of young lawyers with the Legal Services Authorities of the States could also facilitate economic empowerment of the empanelled lawyers who would also gain experience by conducting the assigned matters.
In so far as the aspirants for judicial office are concerned, they must have a dedicated mindset towards the cause of justice and they should always feel that there has to be for a reason that the Almighty has chosen them to adjudicate upon the disputes between citizens interse and also between the citizens and the State. They must not ever succumb to any pressure whatsoever in the course of their judicial functioning. While it is not to suggest that there would necessarily be any interference in their functioning, I would not like to be dubbed as a compulsive soothsayer. I would quote Justice Ravindran (Former Judge of the Supreme Court) having said that “If a member of the Justice Delivery System is independent, he will be respected; while if a judicial officer is accessible, he will be used”. I do not feel I can add anything further to it. The verdict of the Apex Court in the All India Judges Association case has accorded a peculiar status (pay and perks and also infrastructure facilities wise) to the members of Justice Delivery System at every hierarchical level. It is time the trust expressed by the Apex Court is honored in every respect.