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Supreme Court may get first Dalit CJ

Sreelatha Menon  |  New Delhi 

Even as the is pushing for reservations in every sphere, the Supreme Court may finally get its first in a few months.
Justice KG Balakrishnan, the only Dalit judge in the Supreme Court, is leading the race to take over in January after the retirement of Chief Justice Y K Sabharwal, thanks to his being the seniormost among the judges.
Justice Balakrishnan, the second Dalit judge to have been appointed to the Supreme Court after Justice K Ramaswamy, derives his seniority from the fact that he was appointed judge of the Kerala High Court on September 26, 1985, which is much earlier than any of his colleagues in the apex court had been made judges in their respective parent courts.
The 61-year-old judge from Thalayolaparambu in Kottayam district in Kerala is expected to take over after Chief Justice YK Sabharwal retires on January 14, 2007.
Justice Balakrishnan is due for retirement in 2010.
His prospects for taking over as the next chief justice are bright according to former chief justice "He is excellent and senior. There is no basis for another judge superseding him," Khare said.
Justice Balakrishnan is known for his famous judgment in the Kerala High Court asking the Election Commission to debar political parties which imposed hartals on the public causing them hardship.
He was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2000 after his name was proposed by the then President of India, Subsequently, the government transferred the power of appointing judges to the Supreme Court, a move that is seen by many as barring the doors to judges from deprived sections.
A parliamentary committee on the welfare of SC/ST in 2000 reported there were just 15 SC judges among the 481 High Court judges in April 1998.

First Published: Mon, July 31 2006. 00:00 IST