Sarosh Homi Kapadia, the 38th Chief Justice of India, bid farewell to the world in Mumbai with his integrity, which he considered his “only asset,” intact. He was 68.
Shortly after his appointment as the first Parsi Chief Justice of India on May 12, 2010, Justice Kapadia replied to Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer’s congratulatory message. In this, he spoke of how he had started as a Class IV employee and described integrity as his only asset.
A strict disciplinarian with interests ranging from Theoretical Physics to Buddhist Philosophy, Justice Kapadia was best known for his statistical acumen.
One much-quoted instance was during a Law Day function when the then Supreme Court Bar Association president and senior advocate, P.H. Parekh, complained of lack of space for lawyers in the Supreme Court complex. When his turn to speak came, Justice Kapadia reeled out statistics of how lawyers used up a total of 168,000 square feet on the Supreme Court premises while the Supreme Court judiciary and their staff were left with just 2,000 square feet of space.
Justice Kapadia never flinched from taking difficult decisions during his 28-month as CJI. He stood his ground against a concerted move to stop the Allahabad High Court from delivering the Ayodhya title suits judgment. To arguments that the judgment would trigger communal violence, the Kapadia court replied that judicial functioning just could not be held to ransom. Having authored over 250 judgments, Justice Kapadia is most remembered for his verdict in the Vodafone tax verdict.