Justice V.S. Sirpurkar of the Supreme Court was given a farewell by members of the Bar and the Bench on Friday, his last working day. He will retire on August 21 on turning 65.
Justice Sirpurkar was appointed Supreme Court judge on January 12, 2007. Earlier, he served as judge of the Madras High Court and later as Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court. In his four-and-a-half-year tenure in the Supreme Court, he was part of the Bench that rendered several landmark judgments on various branches of law, particularly criminal jurisprudence, and constitutional, taxation, service law and human rights issues. He endeared himself to the members of the Bar and the Bench with his genial demeanour.
A few days ago, he confirmed the death sentence on Pakistani national Mohd. Arif in the 2000 Delhi Red Fort attack case, holding that the incident, in which three soldiers were killed, was a direct attack on the unity, integrity and sovereignty of India by foreigners. It was an attack on Mother India.
“This is a place with glorious history, a place of great honour for every Indian, a place with which every Indian is attached emotionally, and a place from where our first Prime Minister delivered his speech on August 15, 1947, the day when India broke the shackles of foreign rule.”
In December 2009, in a case of “honour killing” of a girl by her brother, Justice Sirpurkar reduced the death sentence to life imprisonment — 25 years for two accused and 20 years for another one.
The judge sympathetically said: “In the society it is the elder brother who justifiably or otherwise is held responsible for not stopping such an affair. At times, he has to suffer taunts and snide remarks. Dilip [brother] must have been a prey of the so-called insult which his younger sister had imposed upon his family and that must have been in his mind. If Dilip became the victim of genuine caste considerations, it would not justify the death sentence. The vicious grip of caste, community, religion, though totally unjustified, is a stark reality.”
In a hooch case, he pulled up the Kerala government for its politicians and officials having a nexus with the liquor mafia and allowing the spurious liquor trade to flourish at the cost of the health of the poor.
On the labour front, Justice Sirpurkar held that the services provided by the office of Regional Provident Fund Commissioner would come within the ambit of “service” under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, and a PF scheme subscriber was a “consumer” under this Act.