The Green Judge
Delhi High Court’s Green Judge – Justice Najmi Waziri Can Never Retire From Public Memory
While there can certainly be no denying the irrefutable fact that the Delhi High Court Judge – Hon’ble Mr Justice Najmi Waziri officially hangs in his boots as a Judge in Delhi High Court on July 14, 2023 which is his last day in office but he can definitely never retire from public memory as he is etched most deep in them especially those who live in Delhi. His relentless, remarkable and robust contribution to make Delhi more greener and eco friendly cannot be ever undermined even by his worst critics! It is also a no-brainer that at a time when we are witnessing so many floods, rains and other environmental crisis, we can ill afford to ever ignore and that too we would be doing at the cost of our own and future generations peril what Hon’ble Mr Justice Najmi Waziri laid down in his most brilliant judgments in his life. The best tribute that can ever be paid rather to be more correct must be paid to Hon’ble Mr Justice Najmi Waziri is to always emulate the most commendable directions which he issued in his landmark judgments regarding the safety of environment to make Delhi more greener and always striving for equality for all.
It must be also mentioned here clearly that even while passing his last order on preservation of trees in national capital, Hon’ble Mr Justice Waziri exhorted for monetary contributions from citizens, public spirited individuals and lawyers in ‘Green Delhi Account’. It goes without saying that the fund was opened after his commendable directions were issued to facilitate plantation of trees in Delhi. We must note here that on July 13, Hon’ble Mr Justice Waziri was informed by DDA’s counsel that the current balance in the account is over Rs 2.38 crores and more money is pouring due to various judicial orders.
Thereafter, Hon’ble Mr Justice Waziri had directed that the monies deposited in the I account shall be used for the plantation of trees so that the environment could become more greener in the betterment of lives of all living beings which is the crying need of the hour also. It must be mentioned here that while passing his last order on preservation of trees in national capital, Hon’ble Mr Justice Waziri had called for monetary contributions from citizens, public spirited individuals and lawyers in “Green Delhi Account”. There can be no gainsaying that this will definitely go a very long way in making Delhi more eco friendly and that extra mile will also be definitely covered by this most commendable initiative heralded by Hon’ble Mr Justice Waziri which is urgently needed also in Delhi which is one of the most polluted city in the world.
According to the official data submitted before the court in September 2022, we find that it was reported that a total of 53,915 trees were planted in Insaf Bagh, Central Ridge on the directions of the Court in the past four years. Similarly, we also saw that it was reported that 80,234 trees were planted in Maufi Bagh in Southern Ridge. There can certainly be no denying that while proper data on the number of trees planted on Hon’ble Mr Justice Waziri’s order is not available but his landmark judgments are sufficient proof that how much concerned he was to make Delhi more greener and environment more eco friendly and one has to concede that the figures that were submitted previously by the Delhi government is definitely indicative of the relentless and invaluable contributions made by the Judge which cannot be ever discounted.
On a very emotional note, Hon’ble Mr Justice Najmi Waziri while delivering his farewell speech as he bid farewell to the Delhi High Court on his very last day as a Judge minced absolutely just no words to say unequivocally that, “This country requires many Sunder Lal Bahugunas, Bhavreen Kandharis and Aditya N Prasads, only then our country and our neighbourhoods will turn into delightful orchards.” It is worth taking note that outside the walls of the courtroom we saw how a group of people had gathered at the High Court’s gate holding a banner in gratitude as a most fitting homage to the retiring Judge’s contributions.
While giving a brief introduction on his initial academic and career background, it definitely deserves to be mentioned here that Hon’ble Mr Justice Waziri had studied philosophy from St Stephen’s College in Delhi and later he completed LLB degree from Campus Law Centre, Delhi University. It must be also brought out here that while he enrolled with the Bar Council of Delhi in 1987, he pursued his higher education by doing LLM from Vrije Universiteit Brussels in Belgium in 1994-95. It is worth noting that as a lawyer, he practiced before the Supreme Court, Delhi High Court, other High Courts also and various tribunals and quasi judicial fora. It cannot be discounted that he was also appointed Standing Counsel (Civil), Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi, Central Government Pleader in the Delhi High Court; Standing Counsel, Delhi Wakf Board and Standing Counsel, Municipal Corporation of Delhi.
Most significantly, it must be noted here that it was on April 17, 2013 that Hon’ble Mr Justice Najmi Waziri was elevated as a Judge of the Delhi High Court. Of course, we have seen for ourselves especially those who keep taking a cursory look at various judgments of the Delhi High Court and Supreme Court that his most landmark judgments have definitely made a very significant contribution to the green cover of national capital. What is of immense significance to note here is that the Judge didn’t stop at just passing orders and judgments only. More to the point, he always made it a point to ensure that the trees planted on court’s orders are looked after properly and survive for a longer period and not end as a mere paper exercise which has to be definitely lauded most generously!
It also definitely cannot be glossed over that Hon’ble Mr Justice Najmi Waziri also passed orders for periodic training to government officers “for their sensitization and duties to be discharged towards preservation and augmentation of the environment under the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act, 1994 and Indian Forest Act, 1927.” We can certainly ill afford to ignore in the present context when we are witnessing so many devastating floods in Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Delhi and many other states what Hon’ble Mr Justice Najmi Waziri said in one of his recent remarkable verdict most elegantly, eloquently and effectively that, “While land may belong to individuals and land-owning agencies, the environment belongs to all humans, indeed to all living creatures. Each living being needs to be protected from damaged ecology. There is a hared duty and responsibility on each individual to protect the environment from harm. For Indian citizens, there is a constitutional exhortation and duty to do so under Article 51A (g).” There can be just no denying or disputing it!
While giving farewell to the Hon’ble Judge – Mr Justice Najmi Waziri, we saw how the lawyers had showered tsunami of words of praise upon him and very rightly thanked him for his relentless and untiring efforts that he made towards ensuring green cover conservation. Hon’ble Mr Justice Waziri very commendably said in his farewell speech that, “What you do today and what you’ll be doing over the years is not a small thing. It would have ramifications. Nature’s evolution requires time. You can’t see it grow; the growth is otherwise palpable… When a child grows up, you suddenly see the child has grown. It takes time to reach there. Your efforts – as a lawyering community joining this mission along with the members of the civil society who led it from the front – are making a difference. We are just a court.”
It definitely merits mentioning here that Advocate Aditya N Prasad who has represented various litigants in matters concerning damage to trees in Delhi said that Justice Waziri repeated orders have empowered the citizens to come forward and pay attention to such cases. Advocate Prasad pointed out that, “There was no law laid down by this court on DPTA until now since 1994. Till now there was no law laid down. There was no infrastructure with the forest department, there was no empowering of citizens. That has happened in at least in this past six months, a lot of orders have come through from this bench, which have empowered citizens to come forth and look at tree matters.” While concluding Advocate Prasad summed up saying that, “And in the end, there is no end. It is a continuity and there will be no other Justice Bhagwati, there was no other Justice Dileep Singh and there will be no other Justice Waziri. We know it for sure.”
Former President of Supreme Court Bar Association, former Additional Solicitor General and senior Supreme Court lawyer Mr Vikas Singh too said that Justice Waziri was very firm, decisive and polite on the bench and the way he conducted his court is something which should be followed by others. Adding more to it, Mr Vikas Singh also stated that, “The best part is that even on the last day, your lordships is ready to decide the matter and pass a final order. This is a lesson for judges and also this profession.” Absolutely right!
While hearing the pouring of so much of praise from many eminent lawyers, Hon’ble Mr Justice Najmi Waziri too graciously acknowledged it and said that, “From the past few days, since the court has reopened, there has been an outpouring of affection from the Bar….It has been an emotional roller coaster ride for me. All I can say is, I am humbled and honoured simultaneously.”
In sum, there can be no denying that Hon’ble Mr Justice Najmi Waziri’s contribution has been par excellence in not only matters pertaining to environment but in other matters also as acknowledged by senior and eminent lawyer Rahul Mehra also. Rahul too said that, “On behalf of all the wrestlers, sportspersons and others, I take this opportunity to thank your Lordships for doing what was necessary and for those who could not be seen or heard and that’s what justice is all about at the end of the day.” Additional Solicitor General Balbir Singh too added that, “Justice Waziri handled key issues with a lot of sensitivity and respect for seniors.”
Another lawyer too added as reported in media that, “Your Lordships has taken care of not only flora and fauna but also taken care of the speechless that is particularly in the case where an animal was to be shifted to other State and somewhere government was absolutely reluctant to shift…..Your Lordship has shown indulgence and compassion towards an animal. So this shows your Lordship was so graceful and heart touching under the sky and taken care of each and every one of which has been made by the God.” This is truly most remarkable! Advocate MA Niyazi too who had appeared in various tree matters before Hon’ble Mr Justice Waziri said that Justice Waziri was equally articulate even when in silence and always was most supporting towards all lawyers by encouraging them to speak freely!
All in all, it would definitely not be stretching things too far if I acknowledge most candidly that his matchless contribution in making a more greener and more safer environment especially in Delhi where he was a Judge for many years will undoubtedly always be remembered in the days to come ahead! Of course, all the Judges in India must definitely strive to always emulate what he did in making a more greener environment because if environment is not good then the lives of all of us are in constant threat and danger of being totally eliminated and also in always ensuring fearlessly that all are treated equally before the law and no one is ever discriminated against in any manner not even the speechless animals!