Justice Lalit delivered key verdicts during 74-day stint as CJI, initiated live stream of SC proceedings

Justice Lalit delivered key verdicts during 74-day stint as CJI, initiated live stream of SC proceedings

NEW DELHI: Chief Justice of India Uday Umesh Lalit, the second head of judiciary to be directly elevated to the Supreme Court bench from the Bar, delivered several important verdicts during his brief 74-day tenure and initiated steps like live-streaming of proceedings and changing the process of listing of cases.

Born on November 9, 1957, Justice Lalit was appointed judge of the Supreme Court on August 13, 2014 and was sworn in as the 49th CJI on August 27, 2022.

November 8 is his last day in office.

He was the second CJI to be directly elevated to the SC bench from the bar.

Prior to him, Justice S M Sikri had become the 13th CJI in January 1971.

SC judges superannuate at the age of 65.

On the last working day, the CJI-led constitution bench, by a majority view of 3:2, upheld the validity of the 103rd Constitution amendment providing 10 per cent reservation to people belonging to economically weaker sections (EWS) in admissions and government jobs, saying the quota does not violate the basic structure of the Constitution.

CJI Lalit concurred with the minority view of Justice S Ravindra Bhat who held the EWS quota as “unconstitutional” for excluding poor among SCs, STs and OBCs.

Popular among lawyers for his polite demeanour, the CJI made most of his short tenure by hearing and disposing of as many cases as possible and starkly being strict in not granting adjournments to lawyers in matters listed for consideration.

On the fourth anniversary of a landmark verdict on live telecast or webcast of important proceedings in matters of constitutional importance, Justice Lalit ordered commencement of live streaming of constitution bench cases from September 27 that included the challenge to the reservation for the Economically Weaker Sections.

The CJI-led bench also paved way for hanging of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorist Mohammad Arif alias Ashfaq by dismissing his plea seeking review of its verdict awarding death penalty to him in the sensational 2000 Red Fort attack case that left three Army jawans dead.

However, Justice Lalit’s bid to fill up the four vacancies of judges in the Supreme Court remained unfinished as his successor Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice S A Nazeer objected to the procedure of seeking written consent to the proposal for the recommendation of names for appointment by the five-member collegiums.

And, this led Justice Lalit to “discharge” the agenda keeping in mind the tradition that the outgoing CJIs leave the issue of appointment of judges through collegium deliberations to the successor the day their remaining tenure in the office comes down to a month.

The CJI-led collegium, however, recommended names of around 20 judges in different high courts, besides the recommendation of the name of Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court Justice Dipankar Datta as a judge of the apex court.

It also recommended the elevation of a few high court judges as chief justices (CJs), besides transferring some other CJs and judges.


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