NEW DELHI, Jan 04 (IANS): Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar was on Wednesday sworn in as the Chief Justice of India (CJI), becoming the 44th and the first Sikh top judge of the country.
Khehar was administered the oath of office by President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan here.
The 64-year-old judge succeeds Justice Tirath Singh Thakur and will hold office of a little over seven months, retiring on August 28, 2017 when he will turn 65. A no-nonsense judge, Chief Justice Khehar has been described as a “strong judge” by his predecessor.
Besides Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the swearing in ceremony was attended by Union Ministers Arun Jaitley, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Rajiv Pratap Ruddy and Prakash Javadekar.
Veteran BJP leader L.K. Advani too was present as were sitting and former judges of the top court including former Chief Justices of India R.M.Lodha and A.M. Ahmadi, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, and eminent jurist Fali Nariman.
New army and air force chiefs, Gen. Bipin Rawat and Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa too were present.
Khehar was the author of the judgment by a five-judge constitution bench that held “unconstitutional” the Constitution’s 99th amendment paving way for the National Judicial Appointment Commission and the National Judicial Appointment Commission Act, 2014. NJAC was brought by Modi government to replace the existing collegium system of appointing judges.
Besides this, he authored the majority judgment of the constitution bench, restoring the ousted Chief Minister Nabam Tuki as Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister. The verdict was a set-back to Modi government as it quashed then Governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa’s decision to advance the assembly session from January 2016 to December.
Justice Khehar was part of the bench that was headed by Justice K.S.Radhakrishnan (since retired) that had on March 4, 2014 sent Sahara Group Chief Subrata Roy, his son-in-law Ashok Roy Choudhary and a Director of the group Ravi Shankar Dubey to Tihar jail for defying the court’s orders.
Born on August 28, 1952, he graduated in science from Government College, Chandigarh in 1974 and went to on to do his LL.B and LL.M from the Panjab University, Chandigarh. Enrolled as an advocate in 1979, he practiced mainly in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Himachal Pradesh High Court, and the Supreme Court.
Elevated to the bench of High Court of Punjab and Haryana on February 8, 1999, he served as its Acting Chief Justice twice before becoming Chief Justice of the High Court of Uttarakhand on November 29, 2009 and thereafter Chief Justice of High Court of Karnataka, from August 8, 2010.
He took over a Supreme Court Judge on September 13, 2011.