CJI Dipak Misra who demits office today, leaves a rich legacy

CJI Dipak Misra who demits office today, leaves a rich legacy

Courtesy : Agencies02/10/2018 08:46

Outgoing Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, who demits office on Monday, will go down in the Supreme Court’s history as one who brought in several social reforms through his pathbreaking judgments on issues like Aadhaar, decriminalising adultery and gay sex, and opening the Sabarimala shrine to women of all ages.

He leaves behind an indelible legacy as during his tenure the Supreme Court rendered several judgments on all branches of the law and commitment to human rights.

Monday is the last working day for Justice Misra and his actual retirement date is October 2. Justice Ranjan Gogoi will be sworn in as the 46th Chief Justice on October 3.

Justice Misra is the 45th Chief Justice of India since August 28, 2017. He has been a judge of the Supreme Court and a former Chief Justice of the Patna and Delhi high courts. He is the nephew of Justice Ranganath Misra, who was the 21st Chief Justice from 1990 to 1991. His commitment to upholding the supremacy of constitutional values and his refusal to flinch before the weight of societal morality and age-old customs is what will likely be remembered about him.

Justice Misra also had the dubious distinction of facing an impeachment motion in Parliament initiated by the Congress Party, which was, however, rejected at the initial stages itself by the Rajya Sabha Chairman. He had to face this ignominy as the Congress felt he might bring about a solution to the Ayodhya title suits in his tenure.

Incoming CJI Ranjan Gogoi and three other judges, J. Chelameswar, Madan B. Lokur and Kurian Joseph, held an extraordinary press conference on January 12 this year complaining about Chief Justice Misra’s style of allocation of major cases to junior judges. The allotment of hearing on petitions raising questions over the death of Mumbai judge B.H. Loya, who had been hearing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case, to Justice Arun Misra became a trigger point. Though this open revolt by four senior judges sent shockwaves, Chief Justice Misra proceeded to hear cases despite complaints of lack of transparency in the preparation of the roster system.

Within few days, he put on the Supreme Court website the classification of cases and the categories allocated to each bench. But he did not address the major criticism that he kept to himself all important cases, particularly those decided by Constitution Benches, that he headed. None of the four judges were part of the Constitution Benches, except in one case where Justice Kurian Joseph was accommodated.

During the initial hearing of the Ayodhya title suits, senior Congress leader and advocate Kapil Sibal and senior counsel Dushyant Dave urged CJI Misra not to hear the matter at that point and adjourn the proceedings till July 2019 after the Lok Sabha polls. Both the lawyers said the verdict either way would result in serious consequences and impact the polls. But CJI Misra didn’t buckle under pressure and continued to hear the case.

Having failed in their efforts to adjourn the Ayodhya title suit hearing, a new demand was made to refer the case to a five-judge Constitution Bench and to revisit the 1994 verdict in which an observation was made that offering namaz in a mosque was not integral to Islam. Now. The CJI has posted the matter for hearing from October 29, and it remains to be seen whether incoming CJI Ranjan Gogoi will complete the hearing and render a verdict before next year’s general election.

Chief Justice Misra delivered many verdicts impacting society at large, and particularly so in the last few days prior to retirement. Some of Chief Justice Misra’s bold judgments are bound to bring about a social transformation.

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