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Justice L. Nageswara Rao — a star in real and reel

Supreme Court of India judge Justice L.Nageswara Rao. File

Supreme Court of India judge Justice L.Nageswara Rao. File | Photo Credit: Nagara Gopal

Supreme Court judge Justice L. Nageswara Rao has represented the law in both real and reel lives.

In Kanoon Apna Apna, a 1989 action-drama, a heavily mustachioed, dapper-looking cop is requested by the district collector to summon the leader of a group of agitators to his office.

The ‘police inspector’, none other than Justice Rao, marches up to the sloganeering protestors, and says: “Stop it!”.

The crowd immediately falls silent and the leader, comedian Kader Khan, is walked to the office of the district collector, thespian Dileep Kumar. There, Kader Khan reveals the nuisance Kumar’s son, a young Sanjay Dutt, is causing in his self-assumed role as a vigilante who delivers justice with his fists.

Justice Rao retires on June 7. Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana said Justice Rao’s leaving would be a “deep loss” for the Supreme Court.

A first-generation lawyer from Prakasam in Andhra Pradesh, Justice Rao, after a stint in his native State, established his legal practice in Delhi and went on to become Additional Solicitor General of India for two terms. He was also on the Justice Mukul Mudgal Committee that probed the allegations of corruption against the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) and spot-fixing in the IPL ( Indian Premier League).

Direct appointment from Bar

Justice Rao was invited to the Supreme Court Bench in 2016. He accepted and became only the seventh apex court judge to be directly appointed from the Bar.

“He left a roaring practice to adorn the Bench to render justice. Not everyone can think of making such a sacrifice,” Chief Justice Ramana described his friend and colleague’s decision to join the Bench.

As a judge, he quashed the quota for Marathas; held that forcible vaccination is a violation of the right to privacy; trashed electioneering in the name of religion, race, caste, community or language.

In his last working week as Supreme Court judge, Justice Rao used, back-to-back, the extraordinary powers of the court under Article 142 to do complete justice.

Perarivalan release

A Bench led by Justice Rao ordered the release of Rajiv Gandhi assassination convict A.G. Perarivalan, and, on the very next day, flexed Article 142 again to grant interim bail to Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan.

Justice Rao’s deftness is not limited to the law but extends to the willow. He had played in the Ranji Trophy tournament in 1982.

Even the Chief Justice of India’s cricket team recently benefitted from Justice Rao’s captaincy by winning for the first time against lawyers. He is also a golfer and an avid biker.

“His passion for sports is one of the reasons why he is so spirited and sharp... I am sure he will find time for new adventures after this break from his hectic schedule as a judge,” Chief Justice Ramana said.


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Printable version | May 22, 2022 8:09:54 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/justice-l-nageswara-rao-a-star-in-real-and-reel/article65443144.ece