Dr Ajit Swaran Singh completed ten years as a Judge of the Manukau District Court on November 4, 2012. He was recently transferred to the Auckland District Court.
Hailed as one of the most erudite and respected judges of the New Zealand Judiciary, Dr Singh has also been recognised internationally for his contributions to the justice system, communities and people in general.
He is a recipient of a number of awards and citations bestowed on him by the Indian Government and several organisations in India, Europe and the US.
Born and raised in a family of modest means in Fiji, Dr Singh completed his legal qualifications (LLB & LLM Honours) at the Victoria University in Wellington. He is also qualified as Doctor in Civil Laws (DCL) from the Institute of Comparative Laws, McGill University based in Montreal, Canada.
He was admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor at the High Courts of Fiji, New Zealand and Australia.
In Fiji, Dr Singh served in private practice as well in public service as the Crown Solicitor, Deputy Solicitor-General and Acting Solicitor-General.
He was also involved in several community and education projects and programmes.
Prior to being appointed as a Judge, he served on the Auckland University’s Law Faculty Board as the Auckland District Law Society Representative.
Dr Singh was an elected member of the Auckland District Law Society (ADLS) and the New Zealand Law Society (NZLS).
As the Chairperson of the ADLS Criminal Law Committee and the Fitness to Practice Law Committee and as a member of the NZLS Criminal Law Committee, he was involved in criminal justice issues.
He also served as a District Inspector of Mental Health.
His passion for imparting knowledge of law encouraged him to accept the post of Honorary Visiting Professor to the University of Fiji. Dr Singh visits to lecture at the University on pro bono basis.
He has also lectured at the University of the South Pacific and served as a tutor in Criminal Law at the University of Auckland.
Community organisations, social groups, charitable trusts and professional bodies regularly invite Dr Singh to be a speaker at their important meetings and conferences. The most significant among these is the Global Organisation of People of Indian (GOPIO), a US based international body with Chapters in many countries of the world, including New Zealand.
He is an Honorary Member of the Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) New Zealand Chapter, which was established four years ago.
He is a regular speaker at a number of conferences and meetings of GOPIO held in New Zealand and India.
He was one of the keynote speakers at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas-GOPIO annual international conference held on January 6, 2009 at Chennai, India.
His address on the ‘Interface between PIO and Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) and the Justice System,’ was considered relevant and appropriate to the Indian Diaspora.
He was also one of the main speakers at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas-GOPIO annual conference held in New Delhi on January 6, 2010. The subject of his address was, ‘State and Judicial Response to Racially Motivated Crime.’
Despite a heavy schedule as a Judge, Dr Singh has found time to prepare and deliver public lectures in Fiji on Ethics and Good Governance.
The most recent of these were held on August 28 and 30, 2012.
In his speeches at community forums, social functions and workshops, Dr Singh analyses such important social issues as family violence, child abuse, mental health, bullying in schools, youth suicide and factors that affect migrant and refugee communities.
He is a ‘White Ribbon Ambassador,’ of the Families Commission, which campaigns against violence on women.
Awards & Citations
Pratibha Patil, then President of India, honoured him with the ‘Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award’ at the concluding session of the annual ‘Pravasi Bharatiya Divas’ (PBD), the Government-organised international conference of the Indian Diaspora held in New Delhi on January 9, 2008.
Called, ‘Bharatiya Samman Puraskar’ (Indian Diaspora Award), it carries a 100-gram gold medallion and a citation.
He was the second New Zealander to receive the Award, instituted at the first edition of PBD in 2004.
The citation said that Dr Singh was presented with the Award “in acknowledgement of his outstanding achievement in the field of Public Service and in recognition of his valuable contribution to law and society as well as for promoting the honour and prestige of India and fostering the interests of overseas Indians.”
Among the other recipients of the Award are Sukhi Turner (2004), Dunedin Mayor at the time, businessman Yanktesh Permal Reddy (2010) and then Governor General Sir Anand Satyanand (2011).
India’s Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi presented Dr Singh with the ‘India Empire Award’ (instituted by the India Empire magazine) in New Delhi on January 10, 2010, “in recognition of his community leadership in Asia Pacific.”
In January this year, he was honoured with four Awards in New Delhi.
They included the ‘NRI Institute Bharat Samman Award’ for outstanding contribution in Law Justice and Education, the Global Punjabi Society ‘GPS Award for Fairness, Justice and Community Leadership,’ the ‘India International Friendship Society Glory of India Award & Certificate of Excellence For Meritorious Services, Outstanding Performance & Remarkable Role’ and the Global Indian Association ‘GIA International Excellence Award for Remarkable Contribution and Excellence in Justice & Law.’
Dr Singh received the Bharat Gaurav Award in New York on June 9, 2012.
He was presented with the ‘Mahatma Gandhi Samman Award’ at the House of Lords in London on October 12, 2012.
His wife Subhag is a teacher by profession and occupation.
The couple have a son (Amit) and two daughters (Anjeet and Shobita).
He is extremely attached to his grandson Siddharth and granddaughter Avita (children of Anjeet and Mayur)