The Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, M.Y.Eqbal, who has been elevated as a Judge of the Supreme Court, was on Friday accorded an affectionate farewell by the Bench and the Bar.
Mr. Justice Eqbal (61) took over as Chief Justice here on June 11, 2010. With Mr. Justice Eqbal’s elevation, Justice Elipe Dharma Rao has been made the Acting Chief Justice of the Madras High Court.
In his farewell address, the Advocate-General, A.Navaneethakrishnan, said Mr.Justice Eqbal discharged both the judicial and administrative functions with firmness, integrity, exuberance and élan. This had certainly made him one among the most popular Chief Justices in the chequered history of the High Court. He had disposed of 25,624 cases as Chief Justice.
In his reply, Mr.Justice Eqbal said he had a sense of satisfaction of having done his best for the State’s judiciary.
Mr.Justice Eqbal has to his credit several landmark judgments and introduction of schemes on the administrative side. He dealt with an iron hand where the situation warranted. At the same time, he showed compassion and indulgence in deserving cases, which were the most essential qualities attached to a Judge's office.
He directed the implementation of the Tamil Nadu Uniform System of School Education Act (Samacheer Kalvi), but struck down Section 3 of the law. Considering the larger interest of the common public, he upheld the acquisition of lands for the Chennai Metro Rail project. In a suo motu public interest litigation petition, he ordered that the implementation of the scheme for eradicating child labour be monitored by the District Legal Services Authority from time to time.
Coming to the aid of the differently-abled, he directed the government to explore the possibility of recruiting such persons in government companies and public sector undertakings and also said that special recruitment drives should be organised for the physically challenged so that there was a wider spectrum of job opportunities available to them and to ensure that the reservation rule of three per cent should be adhered to strictly in accordance with the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act.
Mr.Justice Eqbal came down heavily on unauthorised constructions and ordered demolition of such structures in the city. More significant was a judgment in which he ordered the closure of all tanneries polluting the Noyyal river and which had not complied with the court imposed conditions.
Taking suo motu cognisance of the death of a girl aged six after falling through a hole in the school bus, Mr.Justice Eqbal directed the State Government to come out with appropriate guidelines for regulating school buses to avoid recurrence of such tragedies.
Very recently, the Chief Justice took suo motu cognisance of the death of four students who were travelling on the footboard of an MTC bus, and issued directions.
On the administrative side, his tenure would be noted for introducing the Holiday Family Courts for the working couples involved in matrimonial disputes. During his period, the foundation for the 10-storeyed building for records and administrative wings was laid. A comprehensive security system was reintroduced on the High Court premises. Thanks to his initiative, about 170 civil judges (junior division) were appointed by the High Court.