It is like a dream moment for a large section of the legal community. Justice D.Y. Chandrachud taking oath as Chief Justice was welcomed with huge cheers from the media. We would never know whether it was a PR strategy by someone in awe of him or a genuine celebration, just like we do not know how the Collegium elevates judges. In any case, CJI Chandrachud has a huge legacy to overshadow.
Judging CJI Lalit’s tenure
A renowned Russian revolutionary once said, “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.” CJI Lalit’s tenure falls in the category of the latter. While the average tenure of a Chief Justice in India is 1.5 years, CJI Lalit was given only 74 days to bring on landmark changes.
He did not disappoint. The short period of around two and a half months was a distillation of his experience, both as a criminal lawyer and as a judge who was part of the 1013 bench. When he took his oath as CJI, challenges were plenty for the judiciary. The very fact that public trust in the judicial system is heavily reliant on the Supreme Court, CJI Lalit had to bring some sweeping changes in the way the Apex Court functions.
Also read: As Justice Chandrachud becomes 50th CJI, Kiren Rijiju mounts fresh attack on collegium structure
Changes introduced by CJI Lalit
During the farewell speech of his predecessor, CJI Lalit announced the introduction of transparency in the listing system and a system for freely mentioning of urgent matters. He also took it in mission mode to revive the legacy of Constitutional Benches. He wanted at least one constitutional bench to function through the year.
Now, the Constitutional Bench not functioning is a peculiar problem in its own way. These benches look after cases that have strong political undertones. Rarely would any judge want to get mired in a controversy by proactively being part of these benches in the social media era. But CJI Lalit was not the one to bog down.
Took challenges head-on
During his tenure, six Constitutional Benches were set up. These benches are expected to hear 25 constitutional cases in total. One matter regarding EWS reservation has already been disposed of, while others are in the pipeline. These include CAA, demonetisation, and electoral bonds, among others. With the Constitutional Benches back in action, more than 500 buried cases are up for hearing in the upcoming years.
Constitutional matters did grab the major headlines, but there were changes that have extremely positive long-term consequences. Change in the listing system was one such reform. He doubled the listing of cases per bench. Additionally, old hearing matters got priority on miscellaneous days. As a result, 10,000 cases were disposed of during his tenure.
Also read: “There is a limit to criticizing judges. Give us a break” laments Justice Chandrachud
CJI Lalit oversaw all this with a calm demeanor. However, when it was needed, he did not hesitate to take strict action. Lackadaisical attitude by SC registry has always been a big problem. For instance, in September, it announced that it would drop 13,147 cases from the court’s docket.
Despite that, the court’s statistics did not reflect this change. In another instance, the registry did not register a matter that was supposed to be done more than 550 days ago. CJI Lalit took a strict stand and issued a notice to file an explanation for this attitude.
Challenge to maintain dignity of the court
CJI Lalit lived every day of the last 74 days as if it were his last day serving the legal system in the judiciary. And he did not face a single allegation of corruption, favouritism, ideological bias, or anything else.
Also read: States can choose to opt out of the GST – The latest from Justice Chandrachud
In a way, his success is a challenge to the new Chief Justice. When he was just a judge at the SC, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud was subject to heavy public scrutiny. His views on the concept of merit, the decriminalisation of adultery, and pushing for ideology in the judiciary have been the talk of the town. Even on the day he took the oath, #NotMyCJI was trending on Twitter.
D.Y. Chandrachud has an uphill task on his hands. He has to restore people’s trust in the judiciary, which is abysmally low at the current juncture of time. Also, it will be interesting to see how he tackles the habit of giving unnecessary oral remarks to the judges. He has ample time to do so. The 50th CJI of India will serve for 731 days. If that is not enough, nothing will be.
Support us to strengthen the ‘Right’ ideology of cultural nationalism by purchasing the best quality garments from TFI-STORE.COM
Leave a Reply