Mumbai: Justice ML Tahilyani, who had sentenced Pakistan terrorist Mohamed Ajmal Kasab to death for his role in 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, retires on Friday as the Bombay High Court Judge after 28 years of distinguished judicial service.
Justice Tahilyani is slated to take up a new assignment as the Lok Ayukta of Maharashtra on August 24.
Justice Tahilyani was given a fond farewell by lawyers affiliated to the Advocates Association of Western India (AAWI) in the Bombay High Court yesterday.
During his tenure as a sessions judge in Mumbai, Judge Tahilyani had tried many sensational cases, including the murder cases of music baron Gulshan Kumar and trade union leader-MP Datta Samant and also the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack case in which Kasab was executed.
Tahaliyani began his career in 1987 as a metropolitan magistrate in a Bandra court. He was appointed as Additional Sessions judge in Mumbai Sessions Court in 1997.
He was promoted as Principal Judge in the city's civil and Sessions Court in early 2000 prior to taking up the assignment in the HC as Registrar (inspection). He was appointed as a judge in the 26/11 trial in 2009. He was also posted as a special judge to handle CBI cases.
The Supreme Court, in its judgement confirming the Bombay High Court order on Kasab's death sentence, praised Justice Tahilyani for exemplary handling of records.
The SC observed that "in the course of hearing of appeal (of Kasab), we also came to know the trial Judge ML Tahilyani. From the records of the case, he appears to be stern, no-nonsense person. But he is a true flag-bearer of the rule of law in this country. The manner in which he conducted the trial and maintained the record is exemplary."
In 2010, Justice Tahilyani was promoted as a Judge of the Bombay HC.
Felicitating Justice Tahilyani at a function organised by AAWI, senior lawyer SR Chitnis described him as an "outspoken Judge." Apart from listening to advocates' arguments, he (Tahilyani) would directly ask questions to the litigants to find out the truth, Chitnis said.
In his court, many couples had opted for compromise in domestic violence cases instead of moving on with litigations.
"He always kept the court atmosphere tension-free, which benefitted junior lawyers.” He disposed of a large number of appeals under Prevention of Corruption Act," said another senior lawyer Ashok Mundargi.