Justice Srinivasachar Ranganathan, 95, former Judge of the Supreme Court and the first Chairman of the Authority for Advance Ruling, died in Chennai on Wednesday night after a brief illness. He is survived by his wife and daughters.

Justice Ranganathan’s illustrious career started as an Advocate of the Madras High Court in 1952. He became a Junior Standing Counsel to the Commissioner of Income-tax, Madras, in 1954; subsequently appointed as Senior Standing Counsel and later Judicial Member of Income-Tax Appellate Tribunal.

He was Vice-President of the Southern and Northern Zones of the Tribunal and later the President.

He became an additional Judge of the Delhi High Court in 1977 and was appointed as a permanent Judge the following year.

In 1987 he was elevated to the Supreme Court of India, which he served till 1992. After retirement, the Government of India appointed him as the first Chairman of the Authority for Advance Ruling. “Under his able leadership, the Authority was able to fulfil the expectations of the taxpayers and the income-tax department admirably,” said Justice RV Easwar, former Judge of the Delhi High Court.

Justice Ranganathan, whose tenure for about 11 years in the Delhi High Court saw him render several erudite judgments on all the branches of law, including criminal law, said Justice Easwar, whose first court appearance was before a bench of the Tribunal at Madras presided over by Justice Ranganathan.

Justice Ranganathan’s qualities exhibited as a judge were a model for judges and Members of the quasi-judicial tribunals. His orders were elaborate, but not unnecessarily so; not a word or a thought was wasted, and he wrote only that which was apposite or pertinent to the dispute, said Justice Easwar.

N Rangachary, former Chairman of Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority, said, “he was a very soft-spoken man; highly principled and very humble. My guru Rangaswami and Justice Ranganathan were great friends. I have seen them together and been blessed by them. He was a very noble soul.”

Senior Advocate Arvind Datar said that Justice Ranganathan was an outstanding judge and delivered landmark rulings in several tax and constitutional cases. He became a member of the Tribunal at a very young age. As a Judge of the Delhi High Court, he gave important and balanced judgements. In the AR Antulay case, he gave a critical dissenting judgement.

His judgments were exact, and not running into hundreds of pages, and dealt with all the points, added Datar.

He was an illustrious person in Judicial posts for nearly 30 years. After stepping down from the Supreme Court, he was appointed as the first Chairman of the Authority for Advance Ruling (AAR). His orders were considered excellent. He was the Chairman of the Law Commission after that, said S Mahalingam, former CFO of Tata Consultancy Services and a family friend of Justice Ranganathan.

“He was one of those rare judges who was willing to change his own judgement. In a judgement he said “consistency for the mere sake of it is no virtue”. Towards the end of his life, as a Sanskrit scholar, he wrote a book on Sundara Kandam, Mahalingam recalled.

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