NEW DELHI: Supreme Court judge Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, who demitted office after serving over seven years on Thursday, said merit must predominate other factors in appointments to the judiciary.

“I believe nobody has a ‘legitimate expectation’ to come to this court. I believe there is a ‘legitimate expectation’ in the people of India and the litigating public to get a certain quality of justice from this final court,” Justice Nariman said at his farewell organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) .

“For that, it is very clear, merit must predominate, subject to other factors. But merit always comes first,” he added.

Justice Nariman, the illustrious son of noted jurist Fali Nariman, said “it is time more direct appointees are elevated to this bench”.

“I would also say, and exhort, those direct appointees who are asked, never to say ‘No’. It is their solemn duty, having reaped so much from the profession to give back,” Justice Nariman said.

Commenting on his experience as a judge in the top court, Justice Nariman said these seven years have been the most gruelling years of his life.

“It is no cakewalk. When I was on this (lawyer) side I had no concept of what was on the other side. I have been on both sides. This side (judges) is much more difficult. You have to read much more. I enjoyed writing judgements and at the end, it worked out well,” he said.

Justice Nariman, who became the apex court judge on July 7, 2014, disposed of over 13,500 cases and delivered historic verdicts including the declaration of privacy as a fundamental right, setting aside of IT Act provision empowering arrests, decriminalising consensual gay sex and permitting women of all ages to enter Kerala’s Sabarimala temple.

Justice Nariman, born on August 13, 1956, became a senior lawyer in 1993 and Solicitor General of India on July 27, 2011, before being elevated as the judge of the apex court on July 7, 2014.