Justice M.Y. Eqbal was on Friday sworn in Chief Justice of the Madras High Court. At a brief ceremony at Raj Bhavan, Governor Surjit Singh Barnala administered the oath of office.

Justice P. Sadasivam, Supreme Court Judge, Judges of the Madras High Court, Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, Deputy Chief Minister M.K. Stalin, State Ministers, office-bearers of various advocates' associations, family members of the new Chief Justice, including Mrs. I. Eqbal, and four Judges of the Jharkhand High Court — Justices Amerswar Sahay, Patel, Tiwari and Marathia — were among those present.

Earlier, Chief Secretary K.S. Sripathi read out the warrant of appointment of the new Chief Justice.

Mr. Justice Eqbal succeeds Justice H.L. Gokhale, who has been elevated as a Judge of the Supreme Court.

With the swearing-in of Mr. Justice Eqbal, the strength of the High Court has gone up to 52 against the sanctioned strength of 60.

Later, at a function at the High Court where he was accorded a formal welcome by the Bench and the Bar, Mr. Justice Eqbal said: “When people come to courts, they have gleaming hopes in their eyes that justice will be meted out to them in all cases. Therefore, judges and advocates should make all possible attempts to perform their pious obligation of delivering justice. They owe not just a legal responsibility but also a moral and ethical responsibility to ensure that no corrupt hands shall pollute the pure fountain of justice.”

Spelling out a few core areas of priorities for the Bench and the Bar, he said, “First, to be incorruptible and maintain the moral integrity of the institution.”

He made it clear that no incident of corruption should be tolerated and anyone prone to corruption will have no place in the system. The next area was to ensure access to justice for the weaker sections by giving equal opportunities to everyone to perform.

Development of justice delivery system by introducing alternative dispute resolution methods and their widespread use would make a great difference in the system of justice. The Bench and the Bar should do what was right for the legal system in the long term, not what was popular and politically expedient. He said, “Understand the aspirations of the people in the judiciary and paint a vision of the future they can share.”

Advocate-General P.S. Raman delivered the welcome address.

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