Hon’ble Justice NV Ramana: A change in the Judicial system

President Ramnath Kovid administered the oath taking ceremony of Hon’ble Justice NV Ramana on 24th April 2021 as the 48th Chief Justice of India, making history, as it is the first time a first-generation lawyer has risen to the rank of the CJI.

Coming from a poor agrarian family in Andhra Pradesh, Justice Ramana was an activist in his student days, participating in the protests against the nation-wide emergency in 1975, and sacrificed an academic year for the same.

He began his career as a journalist for a regional Telugu newspaper, and joined advocacy only in 1983, practicing in the Andhra Pradesh High court, among various others. He became the permanent judge of the Andhra Pradesh High court in the year 2000 before shifting to the Delhi High Court and finally to the Supreme Court of India. 

In October 2020, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy publicly accused him of influencing judges of the  High Court to deliver verdicts against his government. An in-house inquiry gave a clean chit to Justice Ramana on 24 March, and then CJI SA Bobde nominated him to become the next Chief Justice.

Within the first month of his appointment, Justice Ramana has taken a series of decisions and passed several orders with which signal a rejuvenation of the Supreme Court as the custodian of liberty and justice for the common man.

The Court ordered the U.P. government to shift the journalist Siddique Kappan, despite the state government’s reluctance to do so.

The court has also decided to revisit the legality of the law of sedition. The intervention would bring into spotlight the use of sedition as a tool to incarcerate activists, lawyers, students and journalists who voice their dissent against the government. The court’s decision to re-look the Section comes hardly three months after it had rejected a similar plea filed by some lawyers.

In , authored by Justice Surya Kant, who was part of the bench presided by CJI Ramana and Justice Aniruddha Bose, the Supreme Court held on May 7 that ‘discharge’ from wrongful prosecution is a valuable right provided to the accused.

In two judgments dealing with dowry deaths, the Ramana bench was concerned that the menace of dowry deaths is increasing day by day. It sought to further tighten the law by plugging loopholes, without compromising natural justice to the accused husband and his family members.

While is tenure is small, projected to last for a mere one year and four months, the appointment of Justice Ramana is a major point in the Judicial History, being the first CJI who doesn’t come from a family of lawyers. It is a significant development, considering the accusations of nepotism that the Judicial system has been facing in recent years. The trajectory hereafter appears to be positive.

It may still be very early to draw a comprehensive judgement on Justice Ramana’s tenure (pun intended), however, considering the activities of the Court since his appointment, as well as his achievements before it, it is safe to claim that the Judiciary is witnessing a watershed moment, putting a lot of its old ways in scrutiny, and opening the doors for newer developments.

Image Source: Indian Express

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