Editor’s Note: The common thread in Justice Kannan’s lecture was that the Law and the Truth are perfectly compatible. Entry into litigation is a spiritual cause and for him spirituality, is being transparent, truthful and even-handed. He stressed that one must not romanticize the judiciary, as it would disturb this balance of authority and virtue of level headedness.

Justice K. Kannan – Former Judge of High Court of Punjab & Haryana, Chandigarh and High Court of Madras and the present Chairman of the Railway Claims Tribunal at its Principal Bench at New Delhi, at the invitation of Nyaya Forum for Courtroom Lawyering delivered a lecture on his career in the judiciary titled ‘Judging: A Spiritual Journey’ to a gathering of students and professors at the MK Nambyar SAARC Law Centre.

Justice Kannan, shared his experience of running a blog in which he critiqued various judgements and raised several unpopular questions fearlessly in interest of general public. He was one of the most prominent bloggers in this niche but after questions were raised in the Parliament on issue of blogging by a sitting judge and after receiving criticism from his peers in the judicial community, he made the decision to withdraw the blog.

Recalling his experience as High Court judge, Justice Kannan talked about the dilemma of being in congruence with the superior court orders, where he had to look for voices within to secure justice. He said that his pre-occupation as a lawyer was getting at the truth, but as a judge, it was to closely inquire about what is the truth there.He advised the gathering that if one probes deeper, one can get all the answers to arrive at the truth. As a judge in criminal cases, he took the onus upon himself to point out the untruth, though he admitted that getting at truth in criminal trial cases has its own limitation.

Justice Kannan also spoke about the various lacunae in law which need to be amended and encouraged students and the academic community at large to engage in critical debates and discussions surrounding these issues. He highlighted some of the areas which require urgent attention such as relevancy of the concurrent list and how to make it purposeful; abrogation of S.306 of Indian Succession Act; lacunae in welfare legislations.

Justice Kannan strongly condemned the evil practice of honour killing and was hopeful that the issue of caste can go only with people of the young generation who would look beyond caste. He recollected how he encountered a case where two youth had eloped in search of love and how they sought the High Court’s protection. The hope of getting rid of caste is alive in the form of the budding young generation. He shared that in his judgements he hope to delivery ideas to be explored by young people.

Justice Kannan empathetically advised the students to write short critiques on judgements that they feel are lacking, and to circulate the same in magazines/ journals. This would bring light to judgments that needed to be challenged. He said that he is no romanticist of the judicial process. He also mentioned that not many judgements which change the law get the media attention it deserves, and hence it is the onus of the academic community to pick up the slack on the same. Further, he advised students that there is no way of understanding laws better than by writing about it, as he learned during his tenure on the Madras Law Review. The event culminated with an interactive question and answer session.