Hon'ble The Chief Justice of India (Retd.)
Uday Umesh Lalit
Justice Uday Lalit in 2020.jpg
Umesh Lalit in 2020
49th Chief Justice of India
In office
27 August 2022 – 8 November 2022
Appointed byDroupadi Murmu
Preceded byN. V. Ramana
Succeeded byDhananjaya Y. Chandrachud
Judge of Supreme Court of India
In office
13 August 2014 – 26 August 2022
Nominated byRajendra Mal Lodha
Appointed byPranab Mukherjee
Personal details
Born (1957-11-09) 9 November 1957 (age 65)
Solapur, Bombay State (present-day Maharashtra), India
SpouseAmita Lalit
RelationsU. R. Lalit (father)
Residence(s)5, Krishna Menon Marg, Sunehri Bagh, New Delhi, India[1]

Uday Umesh Lalit (born 9 November 1957) is an Indian Judge who has served as the 49th Chief Justice of India.[2] Previously, he has served as a Judge of Supreme Court of India.[3] Prior to his elevation as a judge, he practised as a senior counsel at the Supreme Court.[4] Justice Lalit is one of the six senior counsels who have been directly elevated to the Supreme Court.[5][6][7]

Family and Education

Lalit was born in Solapur to the family of U.R. Lalit, a former additional judge of the Bombay High Court Nagpur bench and a senior counsel practising at the Supreme Court of India.[8] His family hails from Konkan but moved to Solapur when his grandfather, Ranganath Lalit, began practicing law.[9] Ranganath Lalit chaired two separate civic receptions when Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru visited Solapur.[10] He is married to Amita Lalit.[11]

Lalit attended Haribhai Deokaran High School in Solapur and is a law graduate from Government Law College, Mumbai.[9]

Career

Lalit enrolled with the Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa as an advocate in June 1983. He started his practice with advocate M.A. Rane, who was considered a proponent of the radical humanist school of thought who believed that social work was as important as building a solid legal practice.[10] He shifted his practice to Delhi in 1985 and joined the chamber of senior advocate Pravin H. Parekh. From 1986 to 1992, Lalit worked with former Attorney General for India, Soli Sorabjee.[12] On 3 May 1992, Lalit qualified and was registered as an Advocate-on-Record at the Supreme Court.[13] On 29 April 2004, Lalit was designated as a senior advocate of the Supreme Court.[14]

In 2011, a Supreme Court bench of Justices G. S. Singhvi and Asok Kumar Ganguly appointed Lalit as the special public prosecutor for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the 2G spectrum cases, stating that "in the interest of a fair prosecution of the case, appointment of UU Lalit is eminently suitable".[15] His professional strengths are described as 'thoroughness with the case, patience in explaining legal questions and the sober demeanour in presenting the case before the bench.[16]

As a Supreme Court Judge

In July 2014, the Supreme court collegium headed by then Chief Justice of India Rajendra Mal Lodha recommended his elevation to the Supreme Court as a judge.[17] He was appointed as a judge on 13 August 2014 and became only the sixth lawyer to be directly elevated to the Supreme Court.[10]

In 2017, he was part of the five-judge bench in the case against the unconstitutional nature of triple talaq, then being practiced by Indian Muslim men to divorce their wives by uttering the word "talaq" (divorce) three times. Along with Lalit, J S Khehar, Kurian Joseph, R F Nariman, and Abdul Nazeer delivered the verdict banning the practice.[18]

On 10 January 2019, Justice Lalit recused himself from a five-judge bench constituted to hear the Ayodhya dispute case. His appearance for the erstwhile Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Kalyan Singh in a 'connected case' was brought to the notice of the court by Rajeev Dhavan, and the court in its order noted the 'disinclination' of Justice Lalit to participate in the matter.[19] He has also recused himself from multiple other high-profile cases.[20]

In May 2021, he was part of a bench which denied bail to 2018 Bhima Koregaon violence accused activist Gautam Navlakha.[21]

He was part of the two-judge bench, along with Indu Malhotra, that upheld the Travancore royal family's right to administer the Padmanabhaswamy Temple on 13 July 2020.[22][6][10]

As Chief Justice of India

On 10 August 2022, President of India Droupadi Murmu appointed him as the 49th Chief Justice of India. He took oath as the chief justice on 27 August 2022 in the Rashtrapati Bhavan. He is the second direct appointee from the Bar to be appointed as the Chief Justice of India.

Justice UU Lalit Taking Oath as the Chief Justice of India
Justice UU Lalit Taking Oath as the Chief Justice of India

Chief Justice Lalit's tenure despite being short had brought major administrative changes to the court, a frantic pace of work with each bench of judges having to deal with 60-70 cases per day. Over the years Supreme Court's number of constitution bench judgements fell dramatically from an average of 134 in the 1960s to just 2 in 2021, this has led to 53 such critical constitutional cases being left unheard and pending. To reverse this trend Chief Justice U. U Lalit announced that a constitution bench would hear 25 constitutional cases on his first day of office,[23] and under his tenure at least one constitutional bench functioned everyday. The cases heard include the legality of the Citizenship Amendment Act, validity of demonetisation, setting up of regional benches of the supreme court, declaring of Muslims as a socially and educationally backward community in Andhra Pradesh, right to a dignified death, protection of jallikattu, etc.[24] There had also been a decline in the pendency of cases from 70,301 on September 1 to 69,461 on October 1.[25] The supreme court began live streaming constitutional bench proceedings under his tenure.[26] By the end of his tenure, the supreme court disposed of 10,000 cases while 8,700 cases were freshly filed which had resulted in a slight decrease in the pendency of cases and the court had set up 6 constitution benches.[27]

Chief Justice Lalit could only recommend one new judge to the Supreme Court, his proposal to recommend four more judges to the court, to fill the vacancies in the court, failed to get approval of the collegium over procedural differences arising out of the proposal being sent by circulation instead of being presented in a face to face meeting, as the meeting scheduled on September 30 couldn't take place as one of its members Justice Chandrachud was busy hearing cases till 9:10 PM.[28] As per procedure the Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju wrote to the Chief Justice on October 7 almost a month before his retirement, asking for his recommendations for the appointment of his successor, by convention once this letter is sent the collegium freezes and no new decisions like induction of new judges will be taken till the appointment of next Chief Justice.[29][30]

He was part of the dissenting opinion in the plea against the 103rd constitutional amendment which created 10% reservation for those designated to be part of the economically weaker section (EWS), the dissenting judges were of the view that the exclusion of SCs, STs, and OBCs from the quota was violation of equality and discriminatory, and that the judgement would act as a gateway to further infractions of the 50% ceiling set by the supreme court on reservation.[31]

The supreme court under his tenure gave pro-civil liberties judgements like giving bail to activist Teesta Setalvad and the journalist Siddique Kappan. However his role in the unprecedented urgent Saturday morning hearing of the appeal against the acquittal of UAPA accused GN Saibaba by Bombay High Court has come into question, as the chief justice as the "master of the roster" has the power to decide when cases are listed and which bench of judges hears them.[32]

References

  1. ^ "Delhi confidential: Mutual Praise". 24 August 2021.
  2. ^ Rajagopal, Krishnadas (27 August 2022). "CJI Lalit has big plans lined up during his short tenure". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 4 September 2022.
  3. ^ Bureau, The Hindu (10 August 2022). "Justice U.U. Lalit appointed 49th Chief Justice of India". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 17 August 2022.
  4. ^ "SC judge appointment: Who is UU Lalit?". India Today. 11 July 2014. Retrieved 11 July 2014.
  5. ^ "Senior advocate Uday Lalit did not represent BJP leader Amit Shah in Sohrabuddin fake encounter case". Daily News & Analysis. 14 July 2014. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  6. ^ a b "7 Next CJIs". Supreme Court Observer. 23 November 2021. Retrieved 24 November 2021.
  7. ^ "Justice UU Lalit likely to be the Chief Justice of India for 74 Days; List of India's probable CJs up to 2022, Justice Bobde has the longest tenure". Live Law. 19 August 2014. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  8. ^ "All In The Family". Outlook India. 19 September 2016. Retrieved 23 July 2018.
  9. ^ a b "Solapur Maharashtra's Uday Umesh Lalit likely to be 49th Chief Justice of India". Lokmat Times. 5 August 2022. Retrieved 4 September 2022.
  10. ^ a b c d Rajagopal, Krishnadas (6 August 2022). "U.U. Lalit | A firm hand of rule of law". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 25 August 2022.
  11. ^ Shri Justice Uday Umesh Lalit, Judge, Supreme Court of India along with his wife Smt. Amita Uday Lalit meeting with the President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, at Rashtrapati Bhavan on January 11, 2020. 13 January 2020.
  12. ^ J., Venkatesan (11 July 2014). "Collegium clears Uday Lalit for SC". The Hindu. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
  13. ^ "List of Advocates-on-Record, Supreme Court of India" (PDF). Supreme Court of India. 14 June 2022. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 August 2022. Retrieved 25 August 2022.
  14. ^ "List of Senior Advocates designated by Supreme Court of India (as on 07.07.2022)" (PDF). Supreme Court of India. 7 July 2022. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 August 2022. Retrieved 18 August 2022.
  15. ^ Singh, Sanjay K. (12 April 2011). "2G scam: SC orders Lalit be made prosecutor". The Economic Times. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  16. ^ "Uday Lalit among four new judges to assume charge in Supreme Court". dna. 13 August 2014. Retrieved 23 July 2018.
  17. ^ "SC judge appointment: Who is UU Lalit?".
  18. ^ "Meet Uday Umesh Lalit, 49th Chief Justice of India". Live Mint. 10 August 2022. Retrieved 16 August 2022.
  19. ^ "Ayodhya case: SC to constitute fresh five-judge bench, Justice U U Lalit recuses.|". Business Standard. 10 January 2019. Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  20. ^ "U.U. Lalit". Supreme Court Observer. Retrieved 24 November 2021.
  21. ^ "SC Rejects Activist Gautam Navlakha's Bail Plea in Bhima Koregaon Case". The Wire. 12 May 2021. Retrieved 27 August 2022.
  22. ^ "Padmanabhaswamy Temple verdict: Supreme Court upholds shebaitship of Travancore royal family – Explained". www.timesnownews.com. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  23. ^ Comment, Business Standard Editorial (29 August 2022). "Bench strength: A decisive move by Justice Lalit". www.business-standard.com. Retrieved 10 October 2022.
  24. ^ Wahal, Kumar Kartikeya & Kamya (22 September 2022). "Can CJI Lalit Change The Way Constitutional Benches Work?". www.livelaw.in. Retrieved 10 October 2022.
  25. ^ Rajagopal, Krishnadas (8 October 2022). "CJI Lalit sets a frenetic pace in Supreme Court". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 10 October 2022.
  26. ^ "Livestreaming Supreme Court proceedings: A step closer to a stronger democracy". The Indian Express. 4 October 2022. Retrieved 10 October 2022.
  27. ^ Das, Awstika (7 November 2022). ""Have Been Able to Fulfil My Promises", Says CJI Lalit; 10,000 Matters Disposed, 6 Constitution Benches Formed in 74-Day Tenure". www.livelaw.in. Retrieved 8 November 2022.
  28. ^ "Split on method to name new Supreme Court judges, CJI sends 2nd note to Collegium". The Indian Express. 5 October 2022. Retrieved 10 October 2022.
  29. ^ "Name your successor, Law Minister writes to CJI; window for Collegium he heads closing". The Indian Express. 7 October 2022. Retrieved 10 October 2022.
  30. ^ ""Unfinished Work...": Selection Of Supreme Court Judges Comes To A Halt. Here's Why". NDTV.com. Retrieved 10 October 2022.
  31. ^ Joshi, Neha. "Excluding SC/ ST, OBC from EWS reservation amounts to heaping fresh injustice on them: Justice S Ravindra Bhat in dissenting verdict". Bar and Bench - Indian Legal news. Retrieved 8 November 2022.
  32. ^ Saran, Mekhala (8 November 2022). "Chief Justice UU Lalit: 74 Days of Maximum Efficiency, But Some Questions Linger". TheQuint. Retrieved 8 November 2022.