Homage to Justice R P Sethi on his birthday
Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed
Today is the birthday of legendry son of the soil, Justice R P Sethi, who rose up to the Judge of the Supreme Court of India and contributed a lot towards the growth of law. After superannuation he became the founding Chairperson of the J&K Accountability Commission in which he put life because of his legal acumen and high standards of integrity as a result of which people aggrieved of maladministration, corruption and highhandedness of bureaucrats thronged the State Accountability Commission (SAC) where just issuance of notice moved the wheels towards the redressal of the grievances.
This stalwart of legal profession incorporated suo moto powers in the Regulations framed under the State Accountability Commission Act, 2002 which sparked lot of heat and uncomfortable nights to the tainted politicians/ bureaucrats. This power was exercised by Justice R P Sethi against high-ups accused of siphoning of public funds and with the result many scams were unearthed and it was a daily routine to watch tainted politicians/ bureaucrats pleading innocence before a person most suited for the job.
The growing popularity of this watchdog being chaired by experienced Justice R P Sethi was not taken well by the powers that be and many hands ganged up against this towering personality and the Institution. I am witness to an event in the open Court at Wazarat Road, Jammu where labourers detained by owners of Brick Kiln at outskirts of Jammu for months together, got freedom along with wages, because of the indulgence shown by Justice R P Sethi. Police authorities were directed to arrange the travelling of these bonded labourers from different States and this could happen only because of Justice R P Sethi.
Justice R P Sethi was a great lover of Urdu Literature and was vociferous towards its promotion. Being an alumnus of Aligarh Muslim University, he always admired its cosmopolitan culture and always felt proud to be its alumni which produced and groomed important personalities like Dr Zakir Hussain, Hamid Ansari, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, Arif Mohammad Khan etc.
Justice R P Sethi, since his childhood was pro-poor, pro-labour and pro-trade unionist. He had special affection towards Refugees and Displaced persons. Justice Sethi authored several books and delivered Judgments of wide public importance during his career as a Judge. I am very lucky/privileged to had the opportunity to appear before Justice R P Sethi in the State Accountability Commission and learnt words of wisdom from his wonderful experiences of life. Today his Lordships is not with us but his soul and contribution is all around and showering blessings. Justice R P Sethi was a symbol of righteousness and justice and was against corruption at higher places. Being a bold and courageous personality he single handedly fought with tainted system. On his birthday, I extend warmest homage to his departed soul and pray to Almighty to give solace to all his admirers and family members.
(The author is a practicing
Lawyer at Jammu).