Justice UU Lalit: From Practising In Supreme Court To 49th Chief Justice Of India, Heres All You Need To Know

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Justice UU Lalit: From Practising In Supreme Court To 49th Chief Justice Of India, Here's All You Need To Know

Justice Lalit will succeed Chief Justice NV Ramana as the head of the country's top court. With an illustrious line of advocacy and historical trials on his profile, here's everything to know about the 49th CJI of India.

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The Law Ministry notified the appointment of Justice Uday Umesh Lalit as the 49th Chief Justice of India (CJI) on August 10. He would be succeeding CJI NV Ramana, who would officially resign from his duties on August 26 after having completed a 16-month tenure as the Chief Justice of the nation's highest court.

Justice UU Lalit hails from a family that has actively marked their illustrious profile in the field of law and justice. His father is UR Lalit, a former additional judge of the Bombay High Court Nagpur bench and a senior counsel practising at the Supreme Court of India. He followed in his father's footsteps, joined the Bar in June 1983 and began practising in the Supreme Court of India by 1986.

A Senior Advocate Who Rose To The Ranks

Justice UU Lalit was designated as the senior advocate of the Supreme Court in April 2004 and was recommended to the post of one among the top court judges in July 2014 by the Supreme court collegium. He was directly elevated from the Bar as a Supreme Court Judge and became the second such judge in the history of the apex court to be appointed as the CJI. Justice SM Sikri, the 13th CJI, was the first lawyer who rose directly to the top court bench.

As of August 10, 2022, Justice Uday Umesh Lalit has been appointed as the 49th Chief Justice of India (CJI) as per a warrant of appointment approved and signed by President Droupadi Murmu. However, he would only have a brief tenure of three months as the CJI turns 65 on November 8, 2022. As per the law, the retirement age of Supreme Court judges is 65, and abiding by this, Justice Lalit would retire from his duties as the CJI within three months.

Notable Trials And Rulings

Justice Lalit has been credited with several "path-breaking verdicts" during his tenure as a senior advocate, as reported by the NDTV.

Among the notable ones is the ruling he held on the practice of 'triple talaq', a form of divorce followed among Muslims through which they could declare separation by uttering "talaq" thrice. The practice was deemed illegal and unconstitutional, with a 3:2 majority and Justice Lalit being among those who delivered the majority judgement.

Justice Lalit was also part of the five-judge Constitution bench that was hearing the highly controversial Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land title dispute in Ayodhya. He recused himself from the bench on the grounds of disinclination to participate in the further hearing. With this, he had opted out of the Ayodhya conflict trial, which was headed by the then CJI Ranjan Gogoi.

Reflecting upon Lalit's expression to stand back from the bench, senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan had then said that Justice Lalit had appeared as a lawyer for former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh in a similarly linked issue in 1997.

He has also recused himself on many other occasions in the hearing of highly controversial cases such as the Yakub Menon trial, the Asaram Bapu case, teachers' recruitment scam case, among others.

He was previously appointed in the role of a special public prosecutor for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the trial of the 2G Spectrum Allocation Case. This was a prominent case that had landed in the courts after an alleged scam had come to light in connection with multiple politicians and private officials of the United Progressive Alliance coalition government in India. They were accused of selling or allotting 122 2G spectrum licenses on conditions and derived benefits out of it along with specific telecom operators.

Along similar lines, Justice Lalit had appeared in several high-profile and controversial cases. He specialises in criminal law, and during his tenure as a lawyer, he has represented the Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Bollywood actor Salman Khan, former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha, former Karnataka Chief Minister SM Krishna, former Army Chief General VK Singh, and so on.

Justice Lalit had headed a bench that marked an important judgement on the Travancore erstwhile royal family's management rights on the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple. Setting aside the Court ruling of 2011, which had the Kerala Government set a Trust to manage the assets of the temple, he ruled that "heritability must get attached to a right of Shebait" (servitor) of the temple.

Yet another significant judgement passed by a bench headed by Justice Lalit was in regard to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. He ruled that touching the private parts of a child or any form of physical contact with sexual intent would be considered as 'sexual assault' under section 7 of the POCSO Act. The ruling made it a point to specify that sexual intent would be considered more important and not necessarily skin-to-skin contact, thereby quashing the Bombay High Court's controversial remarks of skin-to-skin contact being essential in cases filed under POCSO.

In a recent judgement, the Supreme Court bench headed by Justice UU Lalit also granted permanent medical bail to Varavara Rao in connection to the 2018 Bhima Koregaon case. Poet and activist Varavara Rao was charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and had appealed to the court for permanent bail on the grounds of deteriorating health conditions.

In yet another series of recent events, a bench headed by Justice Lalit was made to assemble at the morning hours of 9:30 am to hear the cases, which is an hour prior to the standardised working hours of the Supreme Court. He stated that it would be a healthy practice and said, "If our children can go to school at 7 in the morning, then why can't we come at 9 am?".

Justice Lalit is also the executive chairperson of the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA). Under his supervision, the NALSA had announced plans to establish a legal aid system that would ensure affordable legal services for the poor and marginalised across all districts.

Also Read: People Know That Judiciary Will Be With Them If Things Go Wrong: CJI

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