Justice K. G. Balakrishnan became the Supreme Court’s first Dalit Chief Justice on January 14, 2007. He served on the Supreme Court for ten years, including three years as Chief Justice. He is India’s 37th Chief Justice.
Konakuppakatil Gopinathan Balakrishnan (born 12 May 1945) in a poor Dalit family from Thalayolaparambu village in Kerala’s Kottayam district Kerala’s society was completely caste-based at the time. Upper caste people could never accept the idea of people from lower castes rising to positions of power in society. His parents, Gopinathan and Sharada, never imagined their son would one day become the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India. They belonged to the Pulaya caste, a scheduled caste that was regarded as one of Kerala’s lowest castes. However, this did not deter Balakrishnan from pursuing a career that is regarded as the noblest of all, and achieving what is not even a dream for many others of his caste. “Really, it’s a source of pride for us, but what I’ve accomplished is the result of hard work and integrity,” says Balakrishnan, who trudged for more than five kilometres to his childhood school.
His parents were his only source of inspiration, as they went to great lengths to ensure that their children received a good education. “Even though my father was only a matriculate and my mother had only completed seventh grade, they wanted to give their children the best education,” Justice Balakrishnan recalls. Despite numerous odds, his father Gopinathan was the first person in the family to complete matriculation. He later retired from the Kerala judicial services as a clerk. “It is because of his efforts that we are all well-educated and well-settled now,” he adds.
He is an Indian judge who served as the Chairperson of India’s National Human Rights Commission. He was previously the Chief Justice of India. He was the first Kerala judge to be appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. His more than three-year tenure was one of the longest in the Supreme Court of India.
Justice Balakrishnan was appointed to the Kerala High Court on September 26th, 1985. In 1997, he was transferred to the Gujarat High Court after twelve years of service. On July 16, 1998, he was appointed as its Chief Justice. On September 9th, 1999, he was transferred to the Madras High Court as its Chief Justice. Destiny has its own law. Taking destiny in one’s own hands is for those who aspire to achieve greatness. On June 8, 2000, he was appointed as a Supreme Court judge the following year.
Pornography sites and hate speech should be banned from the internet, according to Justice KG Balakrishnan. He also issued a ruling stating that posting anything hateful on the internet, even if it is against a political party, is subject to censorship.
Balakrishnan felt there had been violations of human rights against the populace by the harmful spraying of the pesticide Endosulfan during a visit to Kasaragode as NHRC Chairman initiating a suo motu complaint, and recommended the establishment of a super-speciality hospital for the relief of the victims.
During his ten-year tenure on the Supreme Court, Justice Balakrishnan wrote 219 decisions and served on 787 benches. In 2001, he was the author of 44 decisions.
One of his landmark decisions came in 2001, when Justice Balakrishnan ordered that the school lunch programme become a statutory requirement. This order provided relief to millions of poor children who had to drop out of school due to financial constraints.
J. Balakrishnan, as Chief Justice of India, wrote several landmark decisions, including the Mandal Commission case. He presided over a five-judge panel that rendered an independent opinion on the Mandal Commission’s office order. Other Backward Classes were given a 27 percent reservation in educational institutes under the order (OBCs). J. Balakrishnan defended the reservation, claiming that it was necessary to achieve social and economic equality. He claimed that it was not intended for the “creamy layer,” and that only those who needed it could benefit from it.
He made his decision in the high-profile case of Sanjay Dutt v. State of Maharashtra Tr. CBI, Bombay. Sanjay Dutt, a well-known Hindi film actor, was convicted in this case for the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts. As his conviction was not final, he approached the Supreme Court to contest elections while waiting for his appeal. However, due to the seriousness of the alleged offence, J. Balakrishnan denied Dutt’s request.
In the Bellary Mining case, Justice Balakrishnan upheld the High Court’s decision to concretize the boundary between Karnataka and the former Andhra Pradesh states. And charged the Committee established by a previous Supreme Court bench with carrying out this responsibility. He halted mining operations until the fence was built and warned of the consequences of noncompliance would amount to contempt of court.
Justice K. G. Balakrishnan is married to Nirmala, and they have three children: Pradeep, Sony, and Rani. He has two sisters and five brothers.
Born as a Dalit, Justice Balakrishnan walks up the ladder to become A supreme court judge through sheer hard work, holding fast to his integrity. Being a man of great calibre and dedication, and with many more years at his disposal, one cannot rule out his chances of becoming Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in the coming years.
12TH MAY 1945: Birth of Konakuppakatil Gopinathan Balakrishnan.
16th march 1968: Enrolled in Bar
1970: Compeleted his LL.M with first class
1973: Appointed as Munsiff in the Kerala judicial services
26th September 1985: Appointed as a Judge in Kerala High Court.
24th November 1997: transferred to Gujarart High Court as Judge
16th July 1998: became the Chief Justice of Gujarart high court
1999: Chief justice of the high court of judicature at Madras
8th June 2000: appointed a judge of the Suprrme court of india
14th January 2007: became the chief justice of india
12th may 2010: retired as Chief justice of india and then been serving as the Chairman of National Human Rights Commission.
Image source Academia and Encyclopedia
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