Justice T.S. Thakur has been appointed as the Chief Justice of India.
In a significant move signalling that seniority reigns supreme in the highest judiciary following the revival of the Collegium, Chief Justice of India H.L. Dattu had recommended the name of Justice Tirath Singh Thakur as his successor.
Justice Thakur, who is the seniormost judge after the Chief Justice, will take over after Chief Justice retires on December 2, 2015. It is a convention that the present CJI recommends to the government the name of his successor. After the Law Ministry clears his name, the file would travel to the Prime Minister's Office and finally reach the President. His Warrant of Appointment would be issued after the President gives his approval.
Though considered a formal routine and a courtesy from the incumbent to his successor, Chief Justice Dattu's recommendation this time gains significance as it comes shortly after a five-judge Constitution Bench on October 16 struck down the National Judicial Appointments Commission law and restored the Collegium system of judicial appointments.
Had the NJAC law been upheld in whole by the Bench, it would have been the six-member Commission, and not the CJI, who would have recommended the next Chief Justice of India.
Again, Chief Justice Dattu's recommendation comes even as the five-judge Bench led by Justice J.S. Khehar is in the process hearing suggestions to fix the eligibility criteria for judicial appointments in an effort to make the Collegium transparent. The Bench has fixed November 5 to debate and decide on the suggestions it received from various quarters to better the Collegium style of functioning.
Justice Thakur, who is known for his patient, detailed and fair hearings of cases, would be the 43rd Chief Justice of India. He would be in office till January 4, 2017.
Justice T.S. Thakur heralded the overhaul in the Indian cricket administration by holding that no office-bearer of the Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) should have any commercial interests in the game. The judgment on January 22, 2015 demanded institutional integrity from the BCCI and classified the Board's administration of cricket in India as a public function.
Justice Thakur also heads the bench hearing the Sahara-SEBI dispute, which is steering the course for Sahara Group to return Rs. 36,000 crore back to its allegedly duped investors. He also heads the bench monitoring the Saradha chit fund scam and the multi-crore NRHM scam.
Known for his pithy observations in court, it was Justice Thakur who reminded the NDA government of its pre-election promise to clean up River Ganga. He had pulled up the government, saying it would probably take them another 200 years to do the job.
In another case, he had observed that meat bans cannot be "shoved down someone's throat" while refusing a Jain community organisation's plea to set aside the stay order issued by the Bombay High Court on a state government notification banning sale of meat and slaughter in Mumbai during the Paryurshan festival period. Advocating tolerance, he had rounded off the hearing by quoting an Urdu couplet by the poet Kabir, “ why do you peek into the homes of those who use meat, let them do what they do, but why are you so bothered about them, brother'.
Born on January 4, 1952, he is the son of D.D. Thakur, an eminent advocate who became judge in the Jammu and Kashmir High Cour and later union minister.
Justice Thakur started his legal practice in his father's chambers in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court and went on to represent as Pleader in a variety of cases cutting across all branches of law.
He was designated a senior advocate in 1990 and was invited to the Bench as an additional judge of the J&K High Court.
He served as judge in the High Courts of Karnataka and Delhi, before being appointed as acting Chief Justice of Delhi High Court in 2008.
He was serving as Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court at the time of his elevation to the Supreme Court in November 2009.
Justice T.S. Thakur is the next Chief Justice of India
Reviewed by sambasivan srinivasan