When Justice NV Ramana took office as the 48th Chief Justice of India on April 24, 2021, he raised high expectations. As he retires today, 16 months later, there is more than a sense of disappointment. There may even be a loss of hope.
If his date of retirement, August 26, will be remembered, it is because on that day, for the first time in its history, the proceedings of the Supreme Court were broadcast live. The Supreme Court calling for a panel of experts and an all-party meeting to discuss the gift issue was the first order to be broadcast live.
Those who follow the cases pending before the Supreme Court point out that during CJI Ramana’s tenure, “there was no movement on six cases of national importance and 53 cases that required broader consideration by a Constitutional Bench. “.
All of these were held in abeyance as they had been during the tenure of his predecessors. Six cases of national importance pending for periods varying from five months to more than three years and which immediately come to mind are:
- Repeal of Section 370 in Jammu and Kashmir.
- Questioning of electoral obligations as a source of opaque and dubious political financing.
- Challenging the repressive Unlawful Activities Prevention Act 1967 (UAPA).
- a Union government reservation policy based solely on economic, not caste, criteria.
- Karnataka bans the hijab for Muslim students in public educational institutions.
Public perception of these pending cases may well have prompted the outgoing CJI to step up the pace of justice on the penultimate day. Benches led by CJI NV Ramana seized on August 25 of a handful of important cases. These include a review of the PMLA judgement, public interest litigation in the Bilkis Bano case, the Prime Minister’s security breach in Punjab and the Pegasus spying issue. .
The progress of these cases under CJI-appointed Judge UU Lalit would be watched with more than average interest and not just by the political, legal and affected communities.
The author is editorial consultant, WION TV.
(Disclaimer: The views of the author do not represent the views of WION or ZMCL. WION or ZMCL also does not endorse the views of the author.)