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CJI U U Lalit intends to focus on 3 areas, including listing of cases in SC

The 49th CJI Uday Umesh Lalit intends to work on three key areas, including listing of cases and mentioning of urgent matters in the Supreme Court, during his 74-day tenure as head of the judiciary

CJI UU Lalit

CJI UU Lalit (Photo: PTI)

Press Trust of India New Delhi
Sworn in as the 49th Chief Justice of India on Saturday, Justice Uday Umesh Lalit intends to work on three key areas, including listing of cases and mentioning of urgent matters in the Supreme Court, during his 74-day tenure as the head of the judiciary.
Justice Lalit, who became the second CJI to be directly elevated to the apex court bench from the Bar, had on Friday highlighted the three areas, saying he would strive hard to ensure that at least one Constitution bench was functioning in the top court throughout the year.
Justice S M Sikri, who became the 13th CJI in January 1971, was the first lawyer to be elevated directly to the top court bench in March 1964.
Justice Lalit will have a brief tenure of less than three months as the CJI, and he would retire on November 8. The retirement age of judges of the Supreme Court is 65.
While speaking at a function organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) on Friday to bid farewell to his predecessor Justice N V Ramana, Justice Lalit said, ".I must assure you that we will strive hard to make the listing as simple, as clear and as transparent as possible".
During Justice Lalit's tenure as the CJI, several important cases, including Constitution bench matters, are likely to come up for adjudication before the apex court.
The top court had recently notified that 25 five-judge Constitution bench matters would be listed from August 29.
Among the important five-judge bench matters which have been listed is a plea challenging the Constitution (One Hundred and Third Amendment) Act, 2019 which provided reservation to Economically Weaker Sections, the challenge to the WhatsApp privacy policy, and the issue of parliamentarians or legislators claiming immunity from criminal prosecution for taking a bribe to give a speech or a vote in the House.
Justice Lalit, who was a senior advocate before being appointed a judge of the apex court on August 13, 2014, has been part of several path-breaking verdicts, including the one which held the practice of divorce through instant 'triple talaq' among Muslims illegal and unconstitutional.
In January 2019, he recused himself from hearing the politically-sensitive Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land title dispute in Ayodhya.
Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for a Muslim party in the matter, had told the Constitution bench that Justice Lalit appeared as a lawyer for former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh in a connected matter in the year 1997.
One of the path-breaking verdicts Justice Lalit was part of was the August 2017 judgement by a five-judge Constitution bench which by a 3:2 majority ruled the practice of divorce through instant 'triple talaq' as "void", "illegal" and "unconstitutional".
While the then Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice S Abdul Nazeer were in favour of putting on hold the judgement for six months and asking the government to come out with a law to that effect, justices Kurian Joseph, R F Nariman, and Lalit held the practice as violative of the Constitution. Justices Khehar, Joseph, and Nariman have since retired.
Recently, a bench headed by Justice Lalit had assembled at 9.30 am, an hour earlier than the usual working hour of the apex court, to hear matters.
"In my view, ideally we should sit at 9 in the morning. I have always said that if our children can go to school at 7 in the morning, then why can't we come at 9 am," Justice Lalit had observed.
On August 22, a bench headed by Justice Lalit fixed the Amrapali homebuyers matter for hearing from 10.30 am to 1 pm on September 3 (Saturday), which is not a working day in the top court.
Among the other important judgements, a bench headed by Justice Lalit had ruled the erstwhile royal family of Travancore has the management right over the historic Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Kerala, one of the richest shrines, holding that the rule of "heritability must get attached to a right of Shebait" (servitor) of the temple.
In another significant judgement, a bench headed by Justice Lalit had ruled that touching sexual parts of a child's body or any act involving physical contact with 'sexual intent' amounts to 'sexual assault' under section 7 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act as the most important ingredient is sexual intent and not skin-to-skin contact.
Quashing the controversial 'skin-to-skin' judgements of the Bombay High Court in two cases under the POCSO Act, the bench had said the high court erred in holding that there was no offence since there was no direct 'skin-to-skin' contact with sexual intent.
Born on November 9, 1957, Justice Lalit enrolled as an advocate in June 1983 and practised in the Bombay High Court till December 1985.
He shifted his practice to Delhi in January 1986, and in April 2004, he was designated as a senior advocate by the apex court.
He was appointed a special public prosecutor for the CBI to conduct the trial in the 2G spectrum allocation case.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Aug 27 2022 | 1:46 PM IST

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