There was a Full Court Reference at Supreme Court on 7th August, 2012 in memory of Late Shri Prabha Shankar Mishra, Senior Advocate. It was briefly mentioned, P.S. Mishra was appointed as a Judge of Patna High Court in 1982; was transferred to Madras High Court in 1990; was thereafter appointed as Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court in 1995 and of Calcutta High Court in 1997. A few weeks before retirement, Justice P.S. Mishra submitted his Resignation on July 5, 1998. The Full Court Reference did a great injustice to his story.
Just two days before Justice Mishra’s transfer to Madras, Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav had boasted some Judges would be sent out. A large section of Patna HC Bar Association had signed a memorandum stating, ‘transfer smacks of political vendetta and Executive bias’.
A similar experience awaited Justice Mishra at Andhra Pradesh. Even a common man will vouch safe, prestige and dignity of AP High Court was taken to its zenith under his tenure. And yet, 12 Judges eventually signed a petition against him and reasonably ensured his transfer to Calcutta HC.
After tendering his Resignation from the post of Chief Justice of Cal HC, Justice Mishra told BBC, 3 Judges appointed to SC were all his Junior. He criticized the way Judges were appointed to India’s Highest Court. Justice M.M. Punchhi was the CJI then. It is understood, repeated complaints were made to him.
Journeying through 4 High Courts, Justice Mishra finally donned the robe of a Senior Counsel at SC and lived an honest, hard-working life. That he was awarded a Full Court Reference is enough indication of his stature, though several have never heard of his name.
Some commented, after Justice Jayant Patel’s Resignation, it must be one of the saddest days of the Indian Judiciary. Indian Judiciary is beset with such sad days. But, Justices have nearly always redeemed themselves. While we wait for Justice Patel’s life to unfold from here on, I can only say being a Supreme Court Judge has never been and never should be the coveted goal of any Indian Judge. Your principles will stay with us, never to be overruled.