BIOGRAPHY OF CHIEF JUSTICE H. L. DATTU

Born in the year the Constitution of India was adopted, enrolled at the Bar exactly 25 years later, Justice Dattu became 41st Chief Justice of India. Justice Dattu started practicing in Bangalore, dealing with matters pertaining to taxation, Civil, Criminal and Constitutional law. Before his elevation as a judge of the Supreme Court of India in 2008; he had served as the Chief Justice of Kerala High Court and Chhattisgarh High Court. He was appointed as the Chief Justice of India on September 28, 2014 and retired on December 2nd, 2015, serving the nation for a brief period of fourteen months. During his tenure as a senior most judge of the Supreme Court after the CJI, Justice Dattu aged 63, had been a part of few significant landmark judgments like 2G spectrum scam.

He was on the bench that expanded the scope Indian jurisprudence on death sentence cases by commuting the death penalty of terror convict Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar to life term over mental illness and an inordinate delay in deciding his mercy plea by the government.

Dattu is known for his penchant for hard work. He describes former CJI S. Rajendra Babu as his guru. He has also contributed in the field of social work under organisations like the Rotary Club. He is also a connoisseur of Carnatic music. He is known for his hard work and, is considered as a disciplinarian.

EARLY LIFE AND CAREER

Handyala Lakshminarayanaswamy Dattu was born 3rd December 1950 in Chikkapattanagere village in Chikmagalur district of Karnataka. His father H L Narayanaswamy was an English teacher. He completed his early education in Kadur, Tarikere, and Birur, before moving to Bangalore where he completed his LLB.

Dattu got enrolled as an advocate at the bar on 23 October 1975 and practised at Bengaluru. He appeared as government counsel in the Karnataka High court for the sales tax department from 1983 to 1990, government advocate from 1990 to 1993, standing counsel for the income tax department from 1992 to 1993, and a senior standing counsel for the Income Tax department from 1993 to 1995. Dattu was appointed a judge of the Karnataka High Court on 18 December 1995. Subsequently, on 12 February 2007; he was elevated as Chief Justice of Chhattisgarh High Court. On 18 May 2007, he was transferred to head the Kerala High Court.[3] On 5 September 2014, the President of India had appointed Dattu as the next Chief Justice of India, on the recommendation of CJI R M Lodha. On 28 September 2014, he was sworn in as the 42nd Chief Justice of India.  He held the post for a little over a year until his retirement on 2 December 2015, on turning 65 years of age – one of the longest tenures for a CJI in recent years. In February 2014, Dattu was nominated by former CJI P Sathasivam as the CJI’s nominee to the five-membered panel to appoint the Lokpal. He is the visitor of Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur.

In February 2016, Dattu began serving as the chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of India becoming the seventh Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission.

NOTABLE JUDGMENTS PRONOUNCED BY JUSTICE H. L. DATTU

Justice Dattu pronounced several significant judgments. He was on the bench that expanded the Indian jurisprudence on death sentence cases by commuting the death penalty of terror convict Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar to life term over mental illness and an inordinate delay in deciding his mercy plea by the government. Justice Dattu also headed the bench that acquitted 11 persons charged under terror laws telling the Gujarat police that no innocent person should be branded a terrorist and put behind bars simply because he belongs to a minority community.

Justice Dattu pronounced a landmark verdict giving a ruling that “bail is the rule and jail an exception” while granting bail to five big corporate in the 2G case. Authoring this verdict along with Justice G. S. Singhvi on the bench, he said: “The courts owe more than verbal respect to the principle that punishment begins after conviction, and that every man is deemed to be innocent until duly tried and duly found guilty.”

Upholding the freedom of press, Justice Dattu quashed an Allahabad High Court order, directing the Centre to prohibit media from reporting on the controversial troop movements near the national capital in 2012.

Left in cold storage for quite some time, the black money case hit the headlines again as Justice Dattu rejected the UPA government’s plea and started hearing the case. He ordered immediate constitution of the Special Investigation Team, ordered by the Apex Court way back in 2011. He was also on the Constitution Bench that declared as “unconstitutional” a law enacted by Kerala to restrict water level in the Mullaperiyar dam to 136 feet, while protecting the legal right of Tamil Nadu.

Dattu is known for his humanistic approach towards justice system. On a noted incident, he gave justice to an old woman who appealed against a bank which denied job for her granddaughter due to passing the deadline for applying. He ruled out this deadline and asked the bank to consider it as a special case on the grounds that the old woman was uneducated, she can hardly understand the regulations and also considering the helplessness of the grand old woman. While he was Chief Justice of Chhattisgarh High court in 2007, he gave a decision justifying the permanent job status for all temporary contract jobs employees working in the High Court of Chhattisgarh.

CONTROVERSIES RELATED TO JUSTICE H. L. DATTU

Dattu had corruption charges leveled against him before he became chief justice. Justice Katju has taken up the issue in his blog posts, where he called for Dattu’s impeachment on charges of corruption. He is also accused of favouritism and of rendering biased verdicts. He is considered close to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and has openly praised the BJP leader and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi. Dattu was also involved in controversy after he asked for the names of whistleblowers to be revealed in the 2G spectrum scam.

Image Source: Wikipedia.org

REFERENCES:

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

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