Justice Tripathi didn’t come from a family of lawyers and rose to his high position by dint of his own hard work and merit.
“I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.”
This was the philosophy of Justice Ajay Kumar Tripathi but destiny had its own plan. He had a long term ahead of him as a member of the Lokpal of India, which institution was still taking baby steps to establish itself since its inception.
Justice Ajay Tripathi resigned from his position as the Chief Justice of the Chhattisgarh High Court to take the august office of being one of the first members of the Lokpal of India. He was aptly suitable for his position as he was an erudite and upright judge.
He did his schooling from St. Xavier’s School in Bokaro. Thereafter, he did his graduation from the prestigious Shri Ram College of Commerce, University of Delhi and pursued his legal education from Campus Law Centre, University of Delhi. He started his practice at the Patna High Court in Bihar. He did not come from a family of lawyers and rose to his high position by dint of his own hard work and merit.
I was one of his contemporaries at Campus Law Centre, University of Delhi, which was also my alma mater and my close association with Justice Tripathi started from the days at Campus Law Centre. Subsequently, we did many cases together including some land ceiling and land reform writs at the High Court of Judicature at Patna, where I used to go frequently. In similar batch of petitions, he was representing other petitioners and thus, we worked together. In those days, I used to be a regular at the Patna High Court, where I would go almost twice a month and spend wonderful evenings with my colleagues at the Patna Bar.
It was an interesting, enjoyable and initially an interactive experience. Subsequently, Ajay became the counsel for the Union of India where he defended the Union with his usual penchant for hard work and sincerity.
In 2006, he was elevated to the bench and was made an Additional Judge of the Patna High Court. In 2018, he was elevated to the Chief Justice of the Chhattisgarh High Court. His pursuits were not only professional but also academic as he was extremely interested in education. He remained in close touch with Prof. Madhav Menon, whom he helped in establishing the National Law School at Patna, namely the Chanakya Law School, where he remained a trustee and a very active member.
Ajay was an avid golfer. He spent his Saturday and Sunday mornings, from 6:30 am to 12:30 pm, at the Golf Club at Patna, where he used to play his four-ball. He became the president of the legendary club and also organised several golf tournaments.
Ajay was very encouraging to the younger members of the bar, guiding younger associates and colleagues to reach higher laurels and encouraging them to achieve excellence and to have thorough knowledge of their briefs. He was dedicated to his work, which he enjoyed.
Ajay got married to Alka, granddaughter of Chief Minister Bindeshwari Dubey, as their fathers were close colleagues in Bokaro. Alka, his wife, has always been a strong pillar of support by his side.
He is being succeeded by three lawyer daughters, the youngest of whom is presently studying at Cambridge, following the footsteps of her elder sister Anushree Tripathi. Anushree Tripathi finished her law from National Law School, Bhopal, from where she got a gold medal. She stayed with me during her initial stint in Delhi as a member of my family.
His untimely and tragic demise at the age of 62 years has deprived the country of the benefit of his wisdom as a member of the Lokpal of India, where his term of 5 years had barely just begun.
Geeta Luthra, Senior Advocate, L.L.M., M.Phil, (Cambridge, U.K.)