Jagdish Singh Khehar
44th Chief Justice of India
In office
4 January 2017 – 27 August 2017
Appointed byPranab Mukherjee
Preceded byT. S. Thakur
Succeeded byDipak Misra
Judge of the Supreme Court of India
In office
13 September 2011 – 3 January 2017
Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court
In office
8 August 2010 – 12 September 2011
Preceded byP. D. Dinakaran
Succeeded byVikramajit Sen
7th Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court
In office
29 November 2009 – 7 August 2010
Preceded byTarun Agarwala (acting)
Succeeded byBarin Ghosh
Personal details
Born (1952-08-28) 28 August 1952 (age 71)
Nairobi, British Kenya, now Nairobi, Kenya[1]
NationalityIndian (1965-present); Kenyan (1963-1965); British (1952-1963)
Alma materPanjab University, Chandigarh
OccupationJudge
ReligionSikhism
Source:[2]

Jagdish Singh Khehar (born 28 August 1952) is a former senior advocate and a former judge, who served as the 44th Chief Justice of India in 2017.[2][3] Khehar is the first chief justice from the Sikh community.[4][5] He has been a judge in Supreme Court of India from 13 September 2011 to 27 August 2017 upon superannuation.[6] He served for a brief period but gave many landmark judgements such as the Triple Talaq and the Right to Privacy verdict. He was succeeded by Justice Dipak Misra.

Notable judgements

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Khehar led the five-judge Constitution Bench in Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association v. Union of India [2016(5) SCC 1]. By enabling the collegium system to continue, Khehar, quashed the NJAC Act and also declared 99th Amendment to the Constitution unconstitutional. The majority concluded this judgment:

While adjudicating upon the merits of the submissions advanced at the hands of the learned counsel for the rival parties, I have arrived at the conclusion, that clauses (a) and (b) of Article 124A(1) do not provide an adequate representation, to the judicial component in the NJAC, clauses (a) and (b) of Article 124A(1) are insufficient to preserve the primacy of the judiciary, in the matter of selection and appointment of Judges, to the higher judiciary (as also transfer of Chief Justices and Judges, from one High Court to another). The same are accordingly, violative of the principle of "independence of the judiciary." Khehar further explained:

that clause (c) of Article 124 A (1) is ultra-vires the provisions of the Constitution, because of the inclusion of the Union Minister in charge of Law and Justice as an ex officio Member of the NJAC. Clause (c) of Article 124A (1), in my view, impinges upon the principles of "independence of the judiciary", as well as, "separation of powers". It has also been concluded by me, that clause (d) of Article 124A (1) which provides for the inclusion of two "eminent persons" as Members of the NJAC is ultra vires the provisions of the Constitution, for a variety of reasons. The same has also been held as violative of the "basic structure" of the Constitution.

But fascinatingly, Khehar admitted that all is not well even with the collegium system and this is the time to improve it. However, the Supreme Court invited the government to help the judiciary to improve and better the existing collegium system.

Khehar also headed a historic five judge Constitution bench in Nabam Rebia & Bamand Felix v. Bamang Felix Deputy Speaker & Others, [2016(8) SCC 1] that reinstated the Congress-led Arunachal Pradesh Government and held all the actions of the Governor violative of the Constitution. Alluding S. R. Bommai v. Union of India [(1994)3 SCC 1] Khehar avowed that it had: "all the powers to put the clock back".

The Supreme Court bench headed by Khehar imposed an exemplary cost of Rs. 25 lakh on NGO Suraz India Trust for filing 64 frivolous cases in various high courts and also in the apex court and wasting the judicial time. (Decided on 1 May 2017).

Khehar in State of Punjab vs. Jagjit Singh (Decided on 26 October 2016) gave a significant verdict holding that the principal of 'equal pay for equal work' has to be made applicable to those engaged as daily wagers, casual and contractual employees who perform the same duties as the regulars.

Khehar was also a part of the bench which sent Sahara Chief Subrata Roy to jail while hearing the matter relating to the refund of money invested by people in his two companies.

Heading a three-judge bench of Punjab and Haryana High Court Khehar decided a case involving definition of a Sikh. He held that religion must be perceived as it is, and not as another would like it to be.[7]

Right to Privacy verdict

Right to Privacy verdict officially known as Justice K. S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) and Anr. vs Union Of India And Ors is a landmark decision of the Supreme Court of India, in which a nine-judge bench including Khehar held that the right to privacy is protected as a fundamental right under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India.[8]

2G spectrum case

Main article: 2G spectrum case

As an aftermath of Supreme Court's landmark decision in the 2G spectrum case, the government of India filed a presidential reference before the Supreme Court. Khehar gave a separate concurring opinion in which he warned that the government should not be under erroneous impression that it is not necessary to allocate natural resources through auction.[9]

No part of the natural resource can be dissipated as a matter of largess, charity, donation or endowment, for private exploitation. Each bit of natural resource expended must bring back a reciprocal consideration.

— Justice J. S. Khehar, Supreme Court of India, [9]

Triple talaq case

Main article: Triple talaq in India

Khehar was one of the judges on multi-faith bench that heard the controversial Triple Talaq case in 2017.[10][11] Though Khehar upheld the practice of validity of Triple Talaq (Talaq-e-Biddat),[12] it was barred by the bench by 3:2 majority and asked the Central government to bring legislation in six months to govern marriage and divorce in the Muslim community.[13][14] The court said till the government formulates a law regarding triple talaq, there would be an injunction on husbands pronouncing triple talaq on their wives.[15][16]

Allegations

In 2017, the Committee on Judicial Accountability published the suicide note written by former Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister, Kalikho Pul. In the note, Pul claimed that Khehar had demanded ₹49 crore (Para 15.22, Page 39) and ₹31 crore (Para 15.27, Page 41) in bribes from Pul for delivering a favourable verdict.[17] The Committee on Judicial Accountability has demanded a probe in the matter.[18]

References

  1. ^ "Jagdish Singh Khehar - Profile". 2018 Privacy Conference. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar - Profile". Supreme Court of India. Archived from the original on 13 November 2012. Retrieved 27 September 2012.
  3. ^ "J S Khehar may become 1st Sikh Chief Justice of India in 2017". Day & Night News. 1 September 2011. Archived from the original on 21 May 2014.
  4. ^ "Chief Justice J.S. Khehar ends his eventful tenure with a bang". 25 August 2017.
  5. ^ "Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar had defined who is a Sikh". The Times of India. 7 December 2016.
  6. ^ "Justice J.S. Khehar appointed as 44th Chief Justice of India". The Hindu. 19 December 2016. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  7. ^ "Justice Khehar had defined Sikh identity". The Times of India. 12 September 2011. Retrieved 20 December 2016.
  8. ^ Bhandari, Vrinda; Kak, Amba; Parsheera, Smriti; Rahman, Faiza. "An Analysis of Puttaswamy: The Supreme Court's Privacy Verdict". IndraStra Global. 003: 004. ISSN 2381-3652.
  9. ^ a b "Natural resources cannot be dissipated as charity: SC judge". First Post. 27 September 2012. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  10. ^ "Triple talaq case: Muslim judge on multi-faith bench kept mum all through". The Times of India. 19 May 2017.
  11. ^ "5 Judges Of 5 Faiths Give Verdict On Triple Talaq".
  12. ^ "Triple talaq verdict has not gone the entire distance". 25 August 2017.
  13. ^ "Supreme Court declares triple talaq unconstitutional, strikes it down by 3:2 majority". The Times of India. 22 August 2017.
  14. ^ "Five Supreme Court judges who passed the verdict on triple talaq". 22 August 2017.
  15. ^ "Injunction on husbands pronouncing triple talaq until law is made: SC advocate". 22 August 2017.
  16. ^ "This Is What Supreme Court Said In Triple Talaq Judgment [Read Judgment]". 22 August 2017.
  17. ^ "Former CM Kalikho Pul's suicide note" (PDF).
  18. ^ "CJAR covering note along with Mr. Kalikho Pul, former Arunachal Pradesh CM's complete suicide note (without redactions) – Campaign for Judicial Accountability & Judicial Reforms". judicialreforms.org. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
Legal offices Preceded byT. S. Thakur Chief Justice of India 4 January 2017–27 August 2017 Succeeded byDipak Misra