NEW DELHI: Justice Sripathi Ravindra Bhat will retire on Friday but would be among a rare few of those Supreme Court judges who would not be part of the traditional ceremonial bench, in which the retiring judge on the last day in office shares a bench with the Chief Justice of India.
On October 17, Justice Bhat formed majority with Justices Hima Kohli and P S Narasimha to deny civil union and adoption rights to same-sex couples, though the decision to legalise marriage of queer couples was unanimously declined. CJI D Y Chandrachud and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul were in favour of allowing these rights.
The two main judgments – one authored by CJI Chandrachud that advanced the minority view favouring civil union and adoption rights to LGBTQIA+ couples and the other by Justice Bhat denying these rights to them – saw one criticising the other’s reasoning and logic in arriving at their respective conclusions. A day later, on October 18 evening, the CJI left for the US on an official tour.
Since the formation of the Supreme Court in 1950, it has been a tradition for the retiring judge to share the ceremonial bench with the Chief Justice of India in the latter’s courtroom, the biggest in the apex court, on his last day in office. In presence of lawyers, the attorney general, solicitor general and the bar leaders wish farewell to the retiring judge through brief speeches, followed by the CJI.
In the absence of the Chief Justice, the most senior among judges of the Supreme Court, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul would do the honours for Justice Bhat, both hailing from the same parent Delhi high court. Justice Bhat was appointed as a Judge of Delhi HC on July 16, 2004, chief justice of Rajasthan HC on May 5, 2019 and took oath as SC judge on September 23, 2019.
He had a tenure of four years and four months in the SC. As SC Judge, Justice Bhat had authored 122 judgments and was part of 433 more delivered by others. After his retirement, there will still be three judges in the Supreme Court, Justices Kaul, Sanjiv Khanna and Hima Kohli, whose parent HC is the Delhi HC. In contrast, Orissa HC has had no representation in the SC for the last five years.

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