Thursday, June 26, 2014

Profile about SC Justice F.M.Ibrahim Kalifulla

Read the Profile of Hon'ble Justice F.M.Ibrahim Kalifulla

Hon'ble Mr. Justice F.M. Ibrahim Kalifulla
Hon'ble Mr. Justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla (DoB) 23.07.1951 

Term of Office: (DoA) 02.04.2012 to (DoR) 22.07.2016

The learned Judge is the son of Late Thiru. Justice M. Fakkir Mohamed and was born on 23.07.1951. He hails from Karaikudi, Sivagangai District, Tamil Nadu and was enrolled as an Advocate on 20.08.1975. He was an active Labour Law Practitioner as Partner of the Lawyer's Firm called M/s. T.S. Gopalan & Co., and appeared for various Public and Private Sector Undertakings, Nationalised and Scheduled Banks. He was the Standing Counsel for the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board. On 02.03.2000, His Lordship was appointed as Permanent Judge of the Madras High Court.

After assumption of office, the learned Judge has rendered very many landmark Judgments. In one case relating to election to a local body, namely, the Chennai City Corporation, sitting in a Division Bench, the learned Judge rendered a dissenting Judgment holding that the election in respect of 99 wards was liable to be set aside. The matter was referred to a third Judge and the third Judge also confirmed the view of Justice F.M.Ibrahim Kalifulla.

Enthralled by the verdict of the learned Judge, there was widespread appreciation from all quarters. To quote a few, there was an article written by a retired conscientious bureaucrat of the Indian Administrative Service, which would be of worth mentioning. The said article appeared in 'NEWS TODAY' dated 13.1.2007 under the caption " A MOMENT OF INFAMY FOR TAMILNADU GOVERNMENT". It will be appropriate to quote what the author said in his article:

"Through his judgment, Mr. Justice Kalifulla has given cubic content to the immortal words of Justice Felix Frankfurter: 'Judges are not merely the habitations of bloodless categories of the law which pursue their pre-destined ends'. Instead of taking a sterile, bloodless and neutrally neutral view between good and evil, he has categorically declared:' He has referred to the word of caution given by the Supreme Court of India to the effect that successful candidates who had resorted to foul methods should not be allowed to reap the benefits. He has also stated that he was convinced that 'there was an extreme and extraordinary situation', which warranted an extraordinary remedy in view of the magnitude of the situation. He has concluded that it would be wholly inappropriate if fresh elections were not ordered to a majority of the wards. By his verdict setting aside the civic elections in 99 wards out of 155 wards, Mr. Justice Kalifulla has demonstrated that another great American Judge and Jurist Benjamin N Cardozo (1870-1938) was absolutely right when he stated: 'The great tides and currents which engulf the rest of men, do not turn aside in their course, and pass the judges by".

Appreciating the uncompromised stand taken by the learned Judge on the Corporation Polls, the Editor of the Madras Law Journal has expressed his view in the following words, which is reported in (2007) 1 MLJ Page 1, which read as under:

"Whatever be the ultimate majority opinion that might emerge, it fills us with pride that a judge obtains a special eulogical mention in the Press for what it perceives to be correct decision. Praiseful references are made in obituary columns of farewell occasions. 'When they come, when the judge is still in the Bench, not merely from a lawyer, who may have an axe to grind, but from the press, it is a defining moment for the judiciary itself."

One other landmark judgment delivered by the learned Judge was relating to introduction of Vedic Astrology as a course of Scientific study in the Indian Universities which had the seal of approval of the Supreme Court. When a challenge was made in the High Court in a writ petition, the learned Judge declined to interfere with the move of the State. In the Judgment reported in 2004-4-L.W.195 (Dr.K.Natarajan, Director, Dr.K.N..Study Centre for Humanism V. The Union of India represented by its Secretary to the Human Resources Department, New Delhi and another), the learned Judge expressed his views in the following words:

"…..The very purpose of imparting education is to gain knowledge and also education is stated to be the teacher of a teacher. Therefore, there should be every scope for making a study on very many subjects in order to enrich one's craving for knowledge. Any such attempt from any quarters in furtherance of that pursuit, in my opinion should not, therefore, be stultified. ……By introducing the subject of Vedic Astrology either as a science subject or as an arts subject or under any other category, it will have to held that the same would only help the pupil to gain knowledge in that particular subject. ……When it is for the pupil concerned to select any particular field or subject in furtherance of his future career, merely because the subject has got its basic origin traceable to some cult, it cannot be held that the same would only result in propagation of a particular religion. On that footing, it cannot be held that there should be a ban on introduction of that subject as a course of scientific study." 

The said view of the learned Judge was approved by the Hon'ble Supreme Court when a similar challenge came up for consideration before the Hon'ble Supreme Court. It is also reported in 2004-4 L.W.197. While approving the view of the Learned Judge, the Hon'ble Supreme Court referred in detail the point of view expressed by the Learned Judge in paragraph 16 of the judgment.

Transferred to High Court of Jammu and Kashmir and assumed charge of Office on 24.02.2011.

Appointed as Acting Chief Justice of High Court of Jammu and Kashmir on 07.04.2011.

Took oath as Chief Justice of High Court of Jammu and Kashmir on 18.09.2011.

Elevated as Judge, Supreme Court of India on 2nd April, 2012.

Due to retire on 22nd July, 2016.

Also read the related Article

A Moment of Infamy for Tamilnadu Govt 

by V. Sundaram

Hon'ble Justice F M Ibrahim Kalifulla has delivered a historic judgement rendering substantive justice to the unmourned, unhung and unsung common man in Chennai by ordering fresh elections to 99 wards out of 155 wards and directing the State Election Commission (SEC) to recall election certificates issued to candidates elected from these wards. The matter has been referred to Hon'ble Chief Justice A P Shah for appropriate orders.

Through his judgement, Mr Justice Kalifulla has given cubic content to the immortal words of Justice Felix Frankfurter: 'Judges are not merely the habitations of bloodless categories of the law which pursue their pre-destined ends'. Instead of taking a sterile, bloodless and neutrally neutral view between good and evil, he has categorically declared: 'In a democratic set up holding of elections in a free and fair manner assumes great importance'. He has referred to the word of caution given by the Supreme Court of India to the effect that successful candidates who had resorted to foul methods should not be allowed to reap the benefits. 

He has also stated that he was convinced that 'there was an extreme and extraordinary situation', which warranted an extraordinary remedy in view of the magnitude of the situation. He has concluded that it would be wholly inappropriate if fresh elections were not ordered to a majority of the wards. By his verdict setting aside the civic elections in 99 wards out of 155 wards, Mr Justice Kalifulla has demonstrated that another great American Judge and Jurist Benjamin N Cardozo (1870-1938) was absolutely right when he stated: 'The great tides and currents which engulf the rest of men, do not turn aside in their course, and pass the judges by'.

Mr Justice Kalifulla in his judgement has expressed concern that it is unfortunate that the State Election Commission did not raise even its little finger though an extraordinary situation was unfolding on 13 October, 2006, when the civic election to Chennai Corporation was being held. He has passed severe strictures against the State Election Authority. 

In his judgement he has declared that the stand and attitude of the State Election Commissioner (SEC) was 'highly irresponsible' and that he had 'miserably failed in the discharge of his function'. The law-abiding citizens of Chennai had a lurking suspicion right from the beginning that the State Election Commission needlessly functioned as a branch office of the DMK Party from the day on which the elections were notified. This suspicion has now been confirmed by the Judgement of Mr Justice Kalifulla.

Severely indicting the SEC's failure to give even the minimum details about the steps taken by him either to control rigging and booth capturing or restore normalcy to ensure the conduct of free and fair polls on 13 October, 2006, the Hon'ble Judge has said: 'to say the least, the stand of the SEC can only be construed as a highly irresponsible one and was not in the interest of protecting democracy. Instead, it can only be stated as an indifferent attitude displayed without realizing the responsibility reposed on him'.  

Ballot papers strewn all over at Vyasarpadi in Chennai on 13 October, 2006 (glibly ignored by the SEC)

In conclusion, Mr Justice Kalifulla said that the SEC had thoroughly failed to come up to the expectation and that he had displayed a totally indifferent attitude for reasons best known to him and thereby failed to ensure a free and fair poll. To quote his words once again: 'Every one of the incidents and details, besides the failure of the SEC to react to the situation, contributed to an extreme and extraordinary situation and it called for an extraordinary remedy. It will have to be held that there was no free and fair election on 13 October, 2006'.

The enlightened public in Chennai are fully aware of the fact that the SEC functioned only as a spokesman for the ruling DMK party and not as an impartial public election authority. All the complaints made to the SEC were either ignored or treated with contempt or were simply forwarded to the Commissioner of Police, who in turn showed no better perception than that shown by the SEC.

In regard to the complaints of snatching of ballot papers and rigging, the SEC had come forward with a simple categorical denial of the allegations and had stated that such incidents had been blown out of proportion. Mr Justice Kalifulla has wondered as to how the SEC could come forward with such a blatant denial.

Mr Justice Kalifulla has also criticized the Director General of Police and the Commissioner of Police for having taken the pre-meditated view that the violent and ugly incidents were only 'sporadic'. To quote the exact words of Mr Justice Kalifulla: 'I am constrained to state that such a stand taken by these police authorities was far from truth and did not reveal the correct state of affairs'. The High Court has come to the right conclusion that the police officials on par with the SEC failed in the performance of their statutory functions.

Soon after the civic elections, Union Panchayati Raj Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar had described as 'aberrations,' the difficulties faced in holding 'free and fair' panchayat elections in Tamilnadu. He pointed out that enquiries had been ordered into the incidents.

All the major English and vernacular newspapers in India had carried detailed reports and graphic pictures about the violent and ugly incidents that marred the Chennai Corporation Council elections. The SEC and the Tamilnadu Government treated these incidents as minor episodes which had taken place in a remote district in Central China or Iceland! All the newspapers had exposed in one ringing voice the massive rigging of elections on an unprecedented scale in Chennai City. It was reported that in a precisely planned operation, supporters and henchmen of the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) drove out poll officers and party agents at knife point, captured polling booths and the ballot boxes with ballot papers and voted for their party candidates. Candidates of the rival All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) or even an ally like the Communist Party of India (Marxist), who resisted, were assaulted. D. Pandian, State secretary of the CPI, called it 'a misguided adventure' while G Ramakrishnan, CPI(M) State secretariat member, described the incidents as 'a planned operation'.

In a strongly worded statement, N Varadarajan, State secretary of the CPI(M), called the incidents 'shocking' and charged that some DMK candidates and legislators led 'armed, professional rowdy groups' to capture polling booths. False cases under non-bailable offences were booked against CPI(M) district committee leaders like Devi. Complaints to SEC officials were of no avail.

There were widespread demonstrations by almost all political parties against the planned rigging of elections by the DMK Party. Cadres of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) staged a demonstration at Dindigul condemning the violence during local body elections in Chennai. They demanded stern action against those involved in it. K Balabarathi, MLA, said that the violence was a 'murder of democracy'. Though the CPI (M) was part of the Democratic Progressive Alliance, it would not tolerate such anti-democratic incidents. She described it as pre-planned violence and alleged that persons had been mobilized from different parts of the State to commit atrocities.

Against this known background, the historic judgement of Mr Justice Kalifullah comes as a great relief to the frustrated, innocent and law abiding voters of Chennai City. Reading the inspiring judgement of this great judge, I am reminded of another landmark judgement given by Chief Justice William Murray, Lord Mansfield in 1770 in England. In this judgement, he came out with the following inspiring words: 'I will not do that which my conscience tells me is wrong, upon this occasion, to gain the huzzas of thousands, or the daily praise of all the papers which come from the Press. I will not avoid doing what I think is right, though it should draw on me the whole artillery of libels; all that falsehood and malice can invent, or the credulity of a deluded populace can swallow'. 

(V.Sundaram, is a retired IAS Officer)


Mad HC: Setting aside Chennai Civic Elections for 99 Wards out of 155 Wards


This case law has been reported in 2007(1) CTC 705, DB and (2007) 1 MLJ Page 1

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