Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar last week stepped down as the chief justice of India after completing his 7 month tenure which ran from January 4th – 25th August 2017. What is unique about Justice Khehar is that he was the first Sikh chief justice.

He was born in Punjab in India before his family moved to Kenya. It was in Kenya where he did his primary schooling then his family resettled back in India in the 50s.

One of the the landmark rulings that Chief Justice Khehar will be remembered for is the Triple Talaq case. He was part of the multi-faith five judge bench that declared the Islamic practice of instant divorce unlawful. Triple Talaq is a practice in Islam where a man can divorce his wife by saying the word (talaq) which means divorce three times.

In his farewell speech the former chief justice talked proudly of his upbringing in Kenya, saying that it attributed greatly to the success in his career by laying the foundation for his character; a foundation that would later serve as the building block for his career in advocacy.

The farewell speech, as posted on Facebook by kenyankalasingha reads,

“This is my last chance to talk to you. Today I will talk about those people because of who I have reached here. First of all, my father. He was in government service in Kenya. We were three brothers. My other brothers were so much elder to me, in a way I was like their son too.

When I took the first pay of a high court judge, my father’s pension was more than that,” reminisced Khehar. “My father sent me to a very good and expensive school in Kenya. I was taught to always work hard. I was also taught to accept failure.

My friends consider them to be the reason for my success. However, my wife thinks that she is the reason. My father passed away in 2007 and I feel his absence. I got great affection from my mother. People of my family cannot understand why I get so much love. Perhaps there is also a connection to a past life.

My mother taught me to win, even while facing failure. She taught me all the mechanisms. I also got great support from my wife and three sons. When my eldest son came to be an advocate in Delhi, he had to struggle a lot because of my position as a judge of the high court.

In Kenya, my primary school teachers contributed greatly towards my growth. I was given an opportunity to debate by Baldeep Kaur and S. S. Gill. In a way, that was the beginning of my career as an advocate. When I returned to India, the level of education here was very good. Here, through my teachers, I enhanced my education.

Advocacy is a lot of hard work. I had learned hard work since childhood. When I became a judge, I got a lot of support from fellow judges. I am grateful for the cooperation received from fellow judges and all lawyers after becoming a judge.

I remember the father’s official house in Kenya. The phone number was 24671. Those days a telephone was a rarity. Then came black and white television. It was a wonderful experience. Then came mobile, computer, software. The problem of finding the old case overnight has become easy. Therefore, thanks to God, I saw so much.”

Justice Khehar continues to wear his turban in the Kenyan-Sikh style.