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Sarosh H. Kapadia – Jewel of India’s judiciary

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Sarosh Kapadia had the unique distinction of being the First Parsi Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India. This 66 year old ‘Man of Destiny' by dint of his unstinted efforts and unwavering resolve has risen from humble stock to the highest position in the land.

Sarosh did his S. S. C. Examination from St. Mary's School and then prosecuted further studies at Jai Hind College and Government Law College graduating in Arts and Law respectively. He was enrolled as an Advocate on 10th September 1974 and practiced in the Bombay High Court both on the Original and Appellate Side. His higher-ups always found him to be very intelligent, methodical, punctual and very well organised in his work. He scrupulously followed Swami Vivekanand's famous adage “Arise, Awake and Stop not till the goal is reached.” During his legal career he always dreamt that one day he would progress from being an advocate to becoming a judge. His dream turned into reality, On 8th October 1991 he was appointed as a Judge of the Bombay High Court, on the Bench, he was brilliant and had the wonderful knack to get to the crux of the matter in next to no time and delivered his judgement expeditiously to the satisfaction of all concerned. At all times he was most upright, impartial and straight forward. He dealt with all aspects of the law, but specialized in Taxation and Land Revenue matters. He passed landmark judgement in the scam cases related to Harshad Mehta ensuring a quick, fair and impreacheable method of disposal of shares worth hundreds of crores of rupees. In another Harshad Mehta's firm Fair Growth Financial Services, he delivered the famous Judgement which ensured that even small time investors got their money back!  There was also a very complicated case of a nationalised Bank regarding a claim of about Rs. 60 crores, involving the Government of India. After hearing the parties for some time, he gave a ruling which did Justice to both the Government as well as the Bank!

He was elevated  as Judge of the Supreme Court of India on 18th December, 2003. He headed the Tax Bench dealing with Direct and Indirect Taxes, as well as Excise. Custom and Service Tax matters. Sitting on the Forest Bench, he pronounced an important decision in the field of Environmental Law. His Judgement on the 1Xth Schedule of the Constitution of India is path breaking.

Finally came the pinnacle of his legal career on 12th May, 2010 when he became the Chief Justice of Supreme Court of India. He retired on 29th September, 2012 reigning for almost two and a half years to more than One billion people of this great Nation who we call in the Constitution as “We the People".

Occupying this illustruous office for 871 days by his absolutely uncompromising image of incorruptibility and integrity, he has left "footprints on the sands of time” for others to follow.

Let's take a peak into his sterling qualities to find out what makes the man he is. He always lived by the dictum 'Justice is Truth in Action.’ It is not only imperative to uphold the Truth’ but one must do so with integrity and compassion, qualities that spring from an inner spiritual peace. He clearly exemplifies these Zoroastrian virtues. The Parsi Community has produced a number of legal luminaries each bringing laurels to the nation. Justice Kapadia's ethics, values and impeccable character represents the best in Zoroastrian ethos. The Zoroastrian theological understanding is based on dualism, which emphasizes the delineation between right and wrong, truth and lie and justice versus injustice and so justice cannot be neutral but it must fearlessly seek. to uphold the right as versus the wrong, a virtue so readily  seen in his life. According to the Zoroastrian religion the word ‘Sarosh’ means conscience or inner voice. During his stewardship he dispensed justice without fear or favour to all sections of our society.

Sarosh Kapadia is an intensely devout Zoroastsrian and one of his first acts on assuming office was to offer obeisance to Iranahah at Udwada where he received blessings from two Vada Dasturjis of Udwada - Dastur Dr. Peshotan Hormazdyar Kayoji Mirza and Khurshed Kekobad Dastur,  Before taking up any important assignments  he would always recite the very potent prayers of two 'Atha Ahu Vario' and one ‘As haem Vohu' and before ha took his seat as a Judge, he would always recite in his mind 'Khashnothair- Ahuramazdao' which always helped him. 'Khashnothar Ahurawadao' simply means “I start in the name of Ahura Mazda”, the Supreme God.

Though a workaholic with tremenduous responsibility, he is first and foremost a family man. He respects and adores his parents and has the highest regard for his wife Shernaz who has supported and encouraged him at every step. He is also blessed with two well-groomed children -son Hoshnar and daughter Tenaaz, as well as loving grand-children. A good son-in-law and daughter-in-law completes his support system. With no God Father or legal lineage Sarosh made it to the top. A completely self made man, Sarosh will always impart to whatever office he holds the same glory and credibility that he brought as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India.

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