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Justice Hosbet Suresh passes away at 90

Special Correspondent MUMBAI 12 June 2020 22:04 IST
Updated: 12 June 2020 22:06 IST

He was a former judge at Bombay High Court.

Former judge of the Bombay High Court Hosbet Suresh passed away in sleep on Thursday night at the age of 90. He was born at Hosabet in Surathkal, Karnataka.

He was appointed as the permanent judge of the High Court on June 12, 1987, and retired on July 19, 1991. After retirement, he was instrumental in investigating human rights violations during the 1991 Cauvery riots in Bangalore, the 1993 riots in Mumbai after the demolition of the Babri Masjid and the Gujarat riots in 2002.

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P.B. Sawant, a retired judge of the Supreme Court, said, “Justice Suresh was a competent, progressive, humane and a popular judge. As a student, during the period of his advocacy and after retirement from the judiciary, he had always associated himself with all public, pro-people, secular and humanist causes. In fact, he was in demand wherever there were outcries for justice. I remember his work in association with me in the people’s inquiry into government-sponsored atrocities and violence against the Muslim community in what is known as the Godhra violence of 2002. He has left a void in active public life.”

Activist Teesta Setalvad said Justice Suresh was “a mentor to us”. He was committed to the rule of law and the fundamentals of equality, dignity and non-discrimination contained in the Constitution.

People’s tribunals

“My Voice is my Conscience,” he would say, to explain how judges must clearly dictate verdicts in open court. Committed to the secular and socialist values of the Constitution, on the Bench and after retirement, he pioneered the people’s tribunals and public hearings as much needed jurisprudence when the formal justice started creaking and crumbling.

Advocate Susan Abraham said, “He would often speak about how too few judges were ready to speak up about the violation of rights of the masses. He was fearless as a serving judge and even more so after retirement.”

Dolphy D’Souza, Project Lead-Mumbai, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, said he knew Justice Suresh for 25 years, through human rights activities and campaigns. “Suresh was humble and committed and was a staunch defender of the voiceless. He used to remark, ‘I am a retired judge but not a tired one’,” he said.

Advocate Shalini Gera of Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group said his death was a “big loss”. “He had come to Bastar in 2016 on a fact-finding mission. He had amazed all of us with his enthusiasm and readiness to go into a difficult terrain despite his frail health and speaking to the villagers in his bambaiyya Hindi. He will be missed.”

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