New Delhi, August 27 (IANS): A day before being sworn in as the 49th Chief Justice of India (CJI), Justice UU Lalit outlined his properties as CJI, showing his will to speed up the wheels of justice. justice in the Supreme Court.
Although Justice Lalit started on a high note, he will have a Herculean task to undertake in a 74-day tenure – from appointing judges to resuming proceedings on cases raising key constitutional issues.
He has a centuries-old heritage, his father and grandfather were lawyers, from whom he draws inspiration to tackle some of the deepest cases, which challenge the constitutional validity of key government decisions – repeal of article 370, amendment of the citizenship law, among others.
Judge Lalit plans to start by listing constitutional cases after a long hiatus, and also to settle the daily squabbles between lawyers and the registry, as he plans to roll out a regime of free mention of urgent cases before the relevant chambers.
During CJI NV Ramana’s farewell on Friday, Justice Lalit said: “I have always believed that the role of the Supreme Court is to make the law with clarity. The best way to do that is to have benches larger, so that issues are clarified immediately, so that there is consistency and people are clear about the contours of particular legal positions….”
A tearful Senior Counsel, Dushyant Dave, bidding farewell to Ramana, in the presence of Justice Lalit, said he was very pleased that Justice Ramana is leaving this court in the great hands of Justice UU Lalit and the judges who were to follow.
Justice Lalit’s grandfather, Ranganath Lalit, was a barrister in Solapur long before India’s independence, and his 90-year-old father, Umesh Ranganath Lalit, was an extra judge in the Delhi High Court when the government of Indira Gandhi imposed the emergency in 1975. He defied political pressure to grant bail to political prisoners on trial and as a result he was not confirmed as a High Court judge.
Both father and son majored in criminal law and both also served on the Supreme Court. Justice Lalit was appointed Lead Counsel by the Supreme Court in April 2004. He was appointed as Special Public Prosecutor by the CBI Superior Court in all 2G spectrum scam cases. He also worked with the late Attorney General Soli Sorabjee between 1986 and 1992.
On August 13, 2014, Justice Lalit was elevated to the Supreme Court straight from the bar. He will, however, have a short term as Chief Justice as he retires on November 8.
After the late Justice SM Sikri, who was appointed directly from the bar to the Supreme Court as a judge, Justice Lalit will be the second CJI, being directly appointed by the bar. Judge Sikri was the 13th CJI from January 1971 to April 1973.
Justice Lalit was part of a bench of five Constitution judges that declared the practice of triple talaq to be unconstitutional. He led a bench that ruled that touching a child’s sexual body parts – or any act involving physical contact with “sexual intent” – amounts to sexual assault.