[12-5-1932 to 14-6-2015]
With the demise of Justice E.J.Bellie in Chennai on 14-6-2015, the judicial world has lost an icon who epitomised integrity, straight-forwardness, impartiality, strength of character, and an unwavering sense of justice, under-pinned by a wholesome goodness of heart. (Was it Somerset Maugham who said: “Goodness is the greatest force on earth?”)
Born into a family which held high dharmic values, in Ellithorai, in the Nilgiris, Justice Bellie had his early education in Coonoor and Coimbatore, and took his B.L. degree from Madras Law College in 1956. Soon after his appointment as advocate, he set up an independent practice in Ooty. He was appointed twice as Govt. Pleader- cum- Public Prosecutor at Ooty. He was selected as District Judge by direct recruitment in 1973. In a steadily-rising legal career, he served in various capacities as Additional Judge, City Civil Court in Madras, Additional District Judge, Madurai, District Judge, Ramanathapuram, and Chief Editor, Tamil Law Reports, Madras. After serving the State Subordinate Judiciary for circa twelve years, he was elevated as Judge of the Madras High Court in 1985, a post he held until his superannuation in 1994.
As the Chief Justices of Madras High Court, and companion judges sitting on the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court mentioned at a condolence meeting for Justice Bellie at the Madras High Court, “Some of Justice Bellie’s judgments, which are reflected in various law journals, bear ample testimony to his deep insight into the intricacies of law, and his earnestness in the (understanding) of human problems. By reason of his conscientious devotion to duty, his cool and unperturbed attitude in court , and fairness to both sides in giving a patient hearing, he endeared himself to one and all. His simplicity, courtesy, and humane attitude endeared him to both the judiciary, and the litigant public… It was said that Judgeship sat very lightly on his shoulders.”
Invoking the great Greek philosopher, Socrates, in his farewell address to Justice Bellie on his superannuation, the then Advocate General Shri R. Krishnamurthy said that he possessed the qualities of courteous hearing, wise answering, sober consideration, and impartial decision, as advocated by Socrates as requisites in a judge, in full measure. Quoting the Dharma Shastras, about the office of a judge, the Advocate General observed:
“He should be learned, sagacious, eloquent, dispassionate, and impartial; he should pronounce judgments’ only after due deliberation and enquiry; he should be a guardian to the weak, a terror to the wicked; his heart should covet nothing, but equity and truth.Justice Bellie conformed to the afore-mentioned qualities, and won the hearts of the Bar and the litigant public.” He commended the Hon. Judge for dispensing justice without fear or favour, true to the oath taken by him, which is the greatest tribute that can be paid by the Bar to any judge.
After his retirement as High Court Judge in 1994, Justice Bellie was posted as the President Of the State Consumer Redressal Commission, Tamil Nadu. It was during his tenure that I was appointed to the Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum in The Nilgiris, and I can vouch for his impartiality, his high code of ethics, and his dignified demeanour during my five-year tenure. Subsequently, he was appointed as a member of the Advisory Board Of Pondicherry. In addition, his services were also sought by TADA.
It is a telling commentary that Justice Bellie is the only High Court Judge to hail from the Nilgiris so far.
To invoke Socrates again, his final words when he was forced to drink the hemlock, were :
“Beloved Pan, and all ye other gods who haunt this city,
Give me beauty of the inward soul,
And may my outward possessions be in harmony with my spirit;
May I reckon the wise to be the wealthy,
And those who need the least to be most like the gods.”
Those of us who knew Justice Bellie best know how dispassionate he was to materialism. In fact he was a vairagyi in the best sense of the word. It is a silent testimony to Justice Bellie’s luminous, highly-evolved soul, that he was in deep meditation when he breathed his last.
My heart-felt condolences to his family.
Yet another pillar falls…
Mentor, you have fulfilled your destiny, but have left us bereft;
Your sense of duty was your vertical axis,
Your goodness of heart, your horizontal,
With your insight keeping the balance.
When a just man dies,
The death he deals,
is greater than the death which has swallowed him ;
Anna, daari doora, jama kathalai.
What you were, you were,
What you are fated to become, depends on us.
Remembering your death,
How we choose to live, will decide it’s meaning.
In homage, in desolation, in grief, Your ‘sister’, Indu K.Mallah
Mrs.Indu K.Mallah, is an articulate social activist whose articles and book reviews regularly appear in many News Papers. She is the First Badaga who has published a novel in English – ‘Shadows In Dream-time’, which, inter alia has been compared to James Joyce’ “Finnegan’s Wake “. Her plays have been aired on BBC Radio.