N. V. Ramana
N. V. Ramana.jpg
Ramana in 2021
48th Chief Justice of India
In office
24 April 2021 – 26 August 2022
Appointed byRam Nath Kovind
Preceded bySharad Arvind Bobde
Succeeded byUday Umesh Lalit
Judge of Supreme Court of India
In office
17 February 2014 – 23 April 2021
Nominated byP. Sathasivam
Appointed byPranab Mukherjee
Chief Justice of Delhi High Court
In office
2 September 2013 – 16 February 2014
Nominated byP. Sathasivam
Appointed byPranab Mukherjee
Preceded byBadar Durrez Ahmed (acting)
Succeeded byBadar Durrez Ahmed (acting)
Acting Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court
In office
10 March 2013 – 20 May 2013
Appointed byPranab Mukherjee
Judge of Andhra Pradesh High Court
In office
27 June 2000 – 1 September 2013
Nominated byAdarsh Sein Anand
Appointed byK. R. Narayanan
Personal details
Born
Nuthalapati Venkata Ramana

(1957-08-27) 27 August 1957 (age 65)
Ponnavaram, Andhra Pradesh, India
CitizenshipIndian

Nuthalapati Venkata Ramana ([nuːtalapaːʈi venkaʈa ɾamaɳa]; born 27 August 1957) is a former judge and journalist who served as the 48th Chief Justice of India.[1][2][3][4]

Previously, he was a judge on the Supreme Court of India, chief justice of Delhi High Court[5] and the acting chief justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court.[6] He has also been the president of the Andhra Pradesh Judicial Academy.[5]

Early life

He was born in a Telugu-speaking agrarian family[7] on 27 August 1957 in Ponnavaram village in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh.[3][8]

Career

Journalism and litigation

From 1979 to 1980, Ramana was a journalist for the Eenadu newspaper.[9] He enrolled as an advocate on February 10, 1983. He practiced in the High Court of Andhra Pradesh, Central and Andhra Pradesh Administrative Tribunals and the Supreme Court of India, handling civil, criminal, labor, service and election matters. He also handled a number of constitutional matters, including federal river disputes in India. Ramana was a counsel for several government organizations during this time, including an appointment as an additional standing counsel for the Central Government and a standing counsel for the Indian Railways in the Central Administrative Tribunal at Hyderabad. He has also functioned as the Additional Advocate General of the state of Andhra Pradesh.[10]

Judicial

Ramana became a permanent Judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court on 27 June 2000. On 2 September 2013, he was appointed the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court and on 17 February 2014 he became a judge in the Supreme Court of India. In March 2021, then Chief Justice SA Bobde of the Supreme Court recommended him as his successor to the post of Chief Justice.[4] Ramana was appointed the 48th Chief Justice by President Ram Nath Kovind on 6 April 2021, taking his oath of office at Rashtrapati Bhavan on 24 April 2021.[2][3] He retired on 26 August 2022. He was succeeded by Justice U.U. Lalit.[11]

Chief Justice N. V. Ramana administering the oath of the office to the elected president Droupadi Murmu
Chief Justice N. V. Ramana administering the oath of the office to the elected president Droupadi Murmu

Chief Justice of the Supreme Court

His Chief Justice of India tenure saw an increase in judicial appointments to the Supreme Court and high courts, which brought down vacancies to their lowest since 2016.[12] He allowed exclusive online access to the media to attend court proceedings.[13]

He also did key judicial interventions in many cases. Some notable ones are: putting sedition law on hold,[14] cancelling the bail granted to Ashish Mishra in Lakhimpur Kheri violence case,[15] setting up a panel to investigate the Pegasus case in which the bench said that the Union government did not cooperate in the investigation,[16][17] and his judgement that a woman's household labor is equivalent to an office going man.[18] As Chief Justice he constituted a 3 judge panel presided by him to look into a petition challenging a 2013 Supreme Court verdict which held the practice of political parties distributing private goods like televisions, laptops, etc. as not a corrupt practice and considered them to come under the directive principles, while the petitioners considered them to be "irrational freebies".[19][20]

He was criticized for not initiating a judicial review in any of the cases which require a constitutional bench. 53 such cases were pending when he retired. Some of the pending cases of importance include, a challenge to Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, a challenge to Electoral Bonds scheme, the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, and Karnataka hijab ban.[21]

Opinions

Central Bureau of Investigation

While speaking at a lecture on "Democracy: Role and Responsibilities of Investigative Agencies", he discussed the evolution of the police system in India from the British period. As time passed he noted that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has "come under deep public scrutiny". According to Ramana, through "actions and inactions" CBI have often raised "questions on its credibility". He said it was the need of the hour to "reclaim social legitimacy and public trust" and the first step to that "is to break nexus with political and executive".[22]

He said, "The image of police is tarnished by allegations of corruption etc... often police officers approach us saying they are being harassed with change in power… The political executives will change with time. You are permanent", "There is an immediate requirement for the creation of an independent umbrella institution, so as to bring various agencies like the CBI, SFIO, ED, etc. under one roof. This body is required to be created under a statute, clearly defining its powers, functions and jurisdictions. Such a law will also lead to much needed legislative oversight,".[22]

He suggested that the proposed independent and impartial authority, should be "appointed by a committee akin to the one which appoints the Director of the CBI. The head of the organisation can be assisted by deputies who are specialists in different domains".[22]

Access to legal aid

While speaking at the All India District Legal Services Authorities meet as the Chief Justice he highlighted the fact that only a small percentage of the population could afford to approach the courts while the majority suffered in silence, and considered access to justice a tool of social emancipation. He highlighted the need to strengthen district judiciary, and urged lawyers and the judiciary to actively intervene on behalf of the rights of the undertrial prisoners.[23]

Shrinking Opposition

While speaking at an event at the Rajasthan Assembly he stated that the opposition space was diminishing, and the lack of mutual respect and increasing hostility between the government and opposition was not a sign of healthy democracy. He stated that India is a parliamentary democracy with representation being the core idea of such a democracy, with minority not being overwhelmed by the majority. He believed that the opposition should be strengthened to strengthen parliamentary democracy but believed that the opposition space was diminishing with the government passing laws without deliberation and scrutiny.[24]

Allegations of corruption

In October 2020, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy wrote to the then Chief Justice, S. A. Bobde, alleging that Ramana and his relatives had engaged in corruption in relation to the acquisition of land in the newly established city of Amravati, and was attempting to destabilize the Andhra Pradesh Government by allegedly influencing hearings and decisions in the Andhra Pradesh High Court. Reddy asked the Chief Justice to investigate the matter and take appropriate action.[25][26][27][28] The letter was widely reported and provoked both, support for an investigation as well as opposition from judges and lawyers' bodies.[29][30] The Delhi High Court Bar Association condemned the letter, and the All India Lawyers' Union called for an inquiry, with penalties to be imposed on Reddy if the allegations were found to be untrue.[31][32] Following the release of the letter, Ramana spoke at an event to release a book by former Supreme Court judge R. Banumathi, stating that judges had become "soft targets for criticism" and "victims of juicy gossip and slanderous social media posts."[33]

Prior to this, the Andhra Pradesh High Court had, in September 2020, gagged the media from reporting on the registration of a case of corruption concerning land deals in Amravati against several persons, including Ramana's daughters. The gag order was later lifted by the Supreme Court, after hearing the advocates on merits; meanwhile, a stay on the investigation continued until November 2020.[34][35][36]

In November 2020, the Attorney General of India, K. K. Venugopal refused to grant permission for proceedings of contempt of court against Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy after he was requested to do so by BJP leader Aswini Kumar Upadhyay.[37] He noted that while Reddy's comments were "contumacious" and that the timing of his letter was "suspect" as the Andhra Pradesh High Court was currently hearing a number of cases concerning allegations of corruption against Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy's government, he would nevertheless, not be allowing a contempt case to proceed against Reddy at the Supreme Court for his statements about Ramana.[38][39] The Attorney General also declined a second request to initiate contempt proceedings, stating that the Court was free to initiate proceedings by itself.[40]

In November 2020, three petitions were filed at the Supreme Court against Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy for the allegations made in his letter, calling for his removal as Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh in response to the allegations against Ramana. Supreme Court Judge U.U. Lalit recused himself from hearing these petitions.[41][42] On 24 March 2021, the Supreme Court issued a statement indicating that according to an in-house procedure for investigating complaints, the allegations against Ramana had been found to be "meritless" and closed the investigation. The Court also stated that they would not be releasing their report on the allegations, as it was "...strictly confidential."[3][43]

References

  1. ^ "Justice NV Ramana takes oath as 48th Chief Justice of India". The Times of India. 24 April 2021. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  2. ^ a b "J Ramana Sworn in as 48th Chief Justice of India". Supreme Court Observer. 24 April 2021. Retrieved 24 November 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d "BREAKING : President Appoints Justice NV Ramana As Next Chief Justice Of India". LiveLaw. 6 April 2021. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
  4. ^ a b "Chief Justice Of India SA Bobde Recommends Justice NV Ramana As Successor". NDTV.com. Retrieved 24 March 2021.
  5. ^ a b Special Correspondent (3 September 2013). "Justice Ramana sworn in Delhi High Court CJ". The Hindu. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
  6. ^ J. Venkatesan (19 August 2013). "Agrawal, Ramana to be Chief Justices of Madras, Delhi HCs". The Hindu. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
  7. ^ "Chief Justice recommends Ramana as his successor". Deccan Chronicle. 25 March 2021. Justice Ramana will be the second Telugu speaking Chief Justice of India.
  8. ^ "Justice NV Ramana: From a student leader to next CJI". Hindustan Times. 25 March 2021.
  9. ^ "All you need to know about CJI-designate Ramana". Hindustan Times. 22 April 2021.
  10. ^ "NV Ramana: bio". Supreme Court of India. 8 February 2014. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  11. ^ "7 Next CJIs". Supreme Court Observer. 23 November 2021. Retrieved 24 November 2021.
  12. ^ "Under Ramana, over 250 recommendations made for HC judges by Collegium: Report". Deccan Herald. 16 August 2022. Retrieved 26 August 2022.
  13. ^ Sinha, Bhadra (26 August 2022). "NV Ramana: The Chief Justice of India who didn't like shouting in court". The Print. Retrieved 26 August 2022.
  14. ^ Rajagopal, Krishnadas (11 May 2022). "Supreme Court puts colonial sedition law on hold". The Hindu. Retrieved 26 August 2022.
  15. ^ "SC cancels Ashish Mishra's bail in Lakhimpur Kheri case, directs him to surrender within a week". The Print. 18 April 2022. Retrieved 26 August 2022.
  16. ^ Rajagopal, Krishnadas (27 October 2021). "Supreme Court forms committee to examine Pegasus allegations". The Hindu. Retrieved 26 August 2022.
  17. ^ Rajagopal, Krishnadas (25 August 2022). "Malware found in 5 phones, no proof of Pegasus: panel". The Hindu. Retrieved 26 August 2022.
  18. ^ Mahapatra, Dhananjay (22 January 2021). "Value of homemaker's work same as hubby's at office: SC". The Times of India. Retrieved 26 August 2022.
  19. ^ Rajagopal, Krishnadas (24 August 2022). "Supreme Court Bench to revisit 2013 verdict on poll promises". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 26 August 2022.
  20. ^ "Election freebies: Supreme Court refers matter to three-judge bench". The Indian Express. 26 August 2022. Retrieved 26 August 2022.
  21. ^ Das, Saurav (24 August 2022). "Lots Of Speeches, But No Action In Cases Of National Importance: The Legacy of Chief Justice Ramana". article14. Retrieved 26 August 2022.
  22. ^ a b c "Political Executives Will Change, You Are Permanent: Chief Justice To CBI". NDTV.com. 1 April 2022. Retrieved 1 April 2022.
  23. ^ "Only a few can afford courts, majority suffer in silence: CJI Ramana". The Hindu. 30 July 2022. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 26 August 2022.
  24. ^ "Opposition space shrinking, hostility not healthy democracy, says CJI Ramana". The Indian Express. 16 July 2022. Retrieved 26 August 2022.
  25. ^ "In rare letter to CJI, Andhra CM lists allegations against SC's Judge No. 2". The Indian Express. 11 October 2020. Retrieved 26 November 2020.
  26. ^ "In explosive letter, Jagan alleges future CJI Justice Ramana is destabilizing his govt". The News Minute. 11 October 2020. Retrieved 26 November 2020.
  27. ^ "In letter to CJI, Jagan Mohan Reddy accuses Justice NV Ramana of trying to destabilise Andhra Pradesh govt - India News, Firstpost". Firstpost. 11 October 2020. Retrieved 26 November 2020.
  28. ^ "YSRC accuses high court, top court judge of trying to topple its govt". Hindustan Times. 10 October 2020. Retrieved 26 November 2020.
  29. ^ Henry, Nikhila (13 October 2020). "Jagan's Letter On Justice Ramana Questions Pliability Of A Sitting Judge, SC Should Take Note: Ex-AG". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on 15 October 2020.
  30. ^ "Honour at stake". The Week. Retrieved 26 November 2020.
  31. ^ "HC Bar panel condemns Jagan's allegations against Justice Ramana". The Indian Express. 15 October 2020. Retrieved 26 November 2020.
  32. ^ Reporter (6 November 2020). "All India Lawyer's Union writes to CJI for probe into letter by Jagan". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 26 November 2020.
  33. ^ "Judges are seen as soft targets… victims of juicy gossip: Justice Ramana". The Indian Express. 13 September 2020. Retrieved 26 November 2020.
  34. ^ "Andhra HC gags media on govt FIR over land purchase". The Indian Express. 16 September 2020. Retrieved 26 November 2020.
  35. ^ "Amaravati land deal FIR: On Andhra plea, SC lifts HC media gag order". The Indian Express. 26 November 2020. Retrieved 26 November 2020.
  36. ^ "Amaravati land scam: Supreme Court lifts Andhra Pradesh high court's media gag order". Hindustan Times. 25 November 2020. Retrieved 26 November 2020.
  37. ^ Scroll Staff. "Jagan Reddy vs Justice Ramana: Attorney general declines consent to initiate contempt against CM". Scroll.in. Retrieved 26 November 2020.
  38. ^ "Timing of Jagan letter suspect, but no consent for contempt: AG". The Indian Express. 3 November 2020. Retrieved 26 November 2020.
  39. ^ "AG denies nod to contempt case against Andhra CM". Hindustan Times. 3 November 2020. Retrieved 26 November 2020.
  40. ^ "AG Venugopal refuses to review decision to not file contempt petition against Andhra CM". Hindustan Times. 8 November 2020. Retrieved 26 November 2020.
  41. ^ Bindra, Japnam (16 November 2020). "Justice U.U. Lalit recuses himself from hearing plea for removal of Reddy as CM". mint. Retrieved 26 November 2020.
  42. ^ "Supreme Court hears plea seeking notice to Andhra CM for remarks against apex court judge". Hindustan Times. 16 November 2020. Retrieved 26 November 2020.
  43. ^ "Supreme Court Dismisses Andhra Pradesh Allegations Against Justice NV Ramana". NDTV.com. Retrieved 8 April 2021.

Further reading

Legal offices Preceded bySharad Arvind Bobde 48th Chief Justice of India 2021–present Incumbent