Nuthalapati Venkata Ramana was the 48th Chief Justice of India. He was appointed on April 24, 2021, and continued till August 26 and left behind a legacy that will be remembered by the people of this country, in general, and those in the judiciary in particular for the years to come. As he demitted the office, what he impressed upon was the independence of the judiciary, something that has been a debate in the country, but, what needs to be noted here is an interaction of the judiciary with the Government and it is this interaction that needs not to be tagged as an influence.
It has been particularly during the tenure of N.V. Ramana that more efforts were put into ensuring that the people feel a sense of belonging with the judiciary and come out of the notion that the people who are part of the judiciary always remained distant and unaware of the ground realities. It was he who extensively traveled across the country, took part in events and spoke his heart out because he believed in effective communication to strengthen the relationship and sense of belonging of people with the judicial system. The same did not only stop there; rather, the former CJI went on to make people aware of their rights, true democratic values, and the constitutional scheme which governs the functioning of the entire system because he has had a taste of the opposite during the imposition of Emergency.
While several landmark judgments were passed during his tenure as the CJI which corrected wrongs for ages to come and set new precedence, a single apparently unfair judgment, as Retired Justice Ramana noted during his speech, should not shatter the hopes of people upon the institution. The institutions have not vacillated to remedy, never. Rightly so; if there has been one single apparent wrong—for which there is a way for correction—there are several others that have once again proven the power of the judiciary and ensured that there was no infringement of the democratic rights and values across the country.
There are several examples of remedies: In the case of AK Gopalan, the due process of law was not followed in letter and spirit, but what was not there earlier in the judgment, was then restored in its entirety in the case of Meneka Gandhi—a landmark judgment in itself. Similarly, in the ADM Jabalpur v. Shivkant Shukla case which posed a danger to personal liberty, an error that remained there was later rectified by a bench of nine judges of the Supreme Court—once again a landmark judgment. The system of the Indian Judiciary, in general, and the people of India have been lucky enough to have N.V. Ramana serving in the top court of the country with an aim of ensuring that access to the justice system is facilitated because he was a person who after becoming a judge, gave his heart to it and with reaching the highest position in the judiciary even though he, along with his family ‘suffered in silence,’ he did what he was duty-bound to do: upholding the values of democracy because he knew what it feels the otherwise. The nation will remember him for his great service. N.V. Ramana will be missed!