New Delhi, Nov 18, 2019: Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde on Monday was administered oath as the 47th Chief Justice of India (CJI) by President Ram Nath Kovind. He succeeds outgoing CJI Ranjan Gogoi and will have a tenure of around 17 months till April 23, 2021, Yahoo reported.
Justice Bobde, 63, is the fourth judge from Maharashtra to hold the country’s highest judicial post. Earlier, Justice Prahlad Gajendragadkar, the seventh CJI, held office from 1964 to 1966, Justice Mohammad Hidayatullah, the 11th CJI, held office from 1968 to 1970, and Justice Y V Chandrachud, the 16th Chief Justice of India, served from 1978 to 1985.
In the last two years, Justice Bobde has been part of three historical judgments of the Supreme Court. On November 9 this year, he was part on the five-judge constitution bench that delivered a unanimous verdict on the Ayodhya land dispute case.
Justice Bobde was also part of the nine-judge SC bench which had, in August 2017, unanimously held that the Right to Privacy was a constitutionally protected fundamental right in India. He was also part of the three-judge bench that clarified that no Indian citizen should be deprived of basic services and government subsidies because they did not have an Aadhaar card.
In photos: Justice S A Bobde, new CJI and a photography enthusiast
In 1996, Justice Bobde had also handled a contempt of court case involving Shiv Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray. A petition was filed by an individual against Thackeray and fellow Sena leaders Sanjay Raut and Subhash Desai, as well as some newspapers. The petitioner had alleged that at a Dussehra rally at Shivaji Park in Mumbai, Thackeray had made a statement, “which precisely contained that he (Thackeray) was told by someone that a judge demanded Rs 35 lakh for delivering a judgment in his favour”.
Appearing for Thackeray and others, Bobde argued about the tenability of the petition without the consent of the state Advocate General. “He argued that under Section 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, the consent of the Advocate General was necessary for a private person to approach this court as it operates as a filter to eliminate vexatious or frivolous litigations, which are calculated to harass the opponent or for political vendetta, and then to save time of the court. However, in this case, no consent has been received from the Advocate General,” said Nagpur-based advocate Prateek Rajurkar.
The High Court had dismissed the arguments and sentenced Thackeray, Raut and Desai to one week’s imprisonment. The Sena leaders appealed the verdict in the Supreme Court. “The SC upheld the arguments made by Bobde and quashed the case,” said Rajurkar.
While practising as an advocate in the Nagpur High Court in the 1970s and 80s, Justice Bobde was known as a ‘crusader’ for farmers. “He took up many cases related to farmers, on issues like farm loans, crop loss or disputes with insurance companies, aggrieved farmers used to approach advocate Bobde as they knew he had the required expertise to get justice for them,” recalled advocate R P Joshi, who was part of Bobde’s team in the Nagpur High Court for a decade.
Born in Nagpur, Justice Bobde graduated from SFS College Nagpur and studied Law at Dr Ambedkar Law College, Nagpur University. “His father Arvind Bobde served as the state advocate general twice,” said Rajurkar.
Neeta Jog, his classmate in law college, said, “… I feel immense pride that someone with such a high degree of commitment, dedication and hard work has become CJI. Justice Bobde has been an inspiration for many budding lawyers aspiring to make it big.”
Joshi said not many knew that Bobde had won several tennis tournaments during his college days. “He was an ace tennis player and still remains an avid tennis fan,” he said.