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Frivolous PIL will attract huge costs: New CJI

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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh greeting the new Chief Justice of India, Justice Sarosh Homi Kapadia, at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh greeting the new Chief Justice of India, Justice Sarosh Homi Kapadia, at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Wednesday.

J. Venkatesan

New Delhi: Justice Sarosh Homi Kapadia, the seniormost judge of the Supreme Court, was sworn in as the 38th Chief Justice of India on Wednesday. President Pratibha Patil administered the oath of office to him at a brief ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Justice Kapadia, first CJI born after Independence, will have a tenure of two years and four months till September 28, 2012.

A stickler for discipline and procedures and adherence to rules, he has endeared himself to the Bar and the Bench. On his first day as CJI, he made his intentions loud and clear. He said huge costs would be imposed on litigants filing frivolous public interest litigation (PIL) petitions.

Justice Kapadia said he would not allow oral mention by lawyers and litigants in the court at 10-30 a.m. before the commencement of proceedings. The mentioning matter would come to the Bench through the department concerned where it should be filed a day earlier for consideration the next day.

Among those who attended the swearing-in were Vice-President Hamid Ansari, the outgoing CJI, Justice K.G. Balakrishnan; the former CJIs, Justices A.S. Anand and Y.K. Sabharwal; Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Law Minister Veerappa Moily, Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal, Supreme Court Bar Association president Ram Jethmalani, All-India Bar Association chairman Adish C. Agarwala, Attorney-General G.E. Vahanvati, the former Attorney-General K. Parasaran, other senior lawyers and family members of Justice Kapadia.

Justice Kapadia was initially appointed additional judge of the Bombay High Court in October 1991 and made permanent judge in March 1993.

For more than three years, he was special judge of the special court under the Securities Transaction Act. On August 5, 2003, he was appointed Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court. On December 18, 2003, he was elevated to the Supreme Court. In the past six-and-half years, he has delivered several landmark judgments under the constitutional, taxation, regulatory and commercial laws.

Mr. Vahanvati, Solicitor-General Gopal Subramaniam and members of the Bar greeted Justice Kapadia on his assuming office as CJI. In his response, he said: “I want a pro-active Bar and not a reactive Bar.” He finished the hearing of the day's list in about 30 minutes.

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