Chief Justice of India U.U. Lalit nominated Justice D.Y. Chandrachud as his successor in a brief meeting held at the Supreme Court judges’ lounge in the presence of all the other judges of the court on October 11, 2022.
Chief Justice Lalit’s recommendation to the government would start the process for appointment of Justice Chandrachud as the 50th Chief Justice of India. If the government approval comes through, Justice Chandrachud would be the first second-generation Chief Justice of India. His father, Justice Y.V. Chandrachud, was the 16th Chief Justice of India and one of the longest serving ones.
Chief Justice Lalit is scheduled to retire on November 8 at the end of 74-day tenure as top judge. Justice Chandrachud is expected to be sworn in and assume charge as Chief Justice of India from November 9. He has a tenure of about two years as Chief Justice until his retirement on November 11, 2024.
Justice Chandrachud was appointed judge of the Supreme Court on May 13, 2016. He was before that the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court from October 31, 2013. Justice Chandrachud began his judicial career as a judge of the Bombay High Court on March 29, 2000 until his appointment as Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court.
He was Additional Solicitor General of India from 1998 until appointment to the Bombay High Court Bench. He was designated senior advocate by the Bombay High Court in June 1998 and had practised law at the Supreme Court and the Bombay High Court.
Justice Chandrachud’s career in law combines a blend of both practical experience in law and the academic.
He was a visiting professor of Comparative Constitutional Law at the Mumbai University and the Oklahoma University School of Law, USA.
He has delivered lectures at the Australian National University, Harvard Law School, Yale Law School and the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa. He was a speaker at conferences organised by bodies of the United Nations, including United Nations High Commission on Human Rights, International Labour Organisation and United Nations Environmental Programme, the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.
He is an Economics (Honours) graduate from St. Stephen’s College in New Delhi and read Law at the Campus Law University, Delhi University. Justice Chandrachud obtained his LLM degree and a Doctorate in Juridical Sciences (SJD) from Harvard Law School, USA.
Justice Chandrachud’s years in the Supreme Court has seen his hand in almost every notable judgment of the court. His erudite verdicts and dissents on the Bench were marked by a reformist approach, especially in the arena of civil liberties, individual and women’s rights.
His latest judgment had held that single women are equally eligible to the protection of abortion laws. Justice Chandrachud had decriminalised adultery, upheld the right of women short service officers in Army and Navy to be considered for permanent commission and stood by a woman’s right to marry a partner of her choice. Justice Chandrachud upheld the right of women of menstrual age to enter the Sabarimala temple.
Justice Chandrachud was part of the nine-judge bench which upheld privacy as a fundamental right intrinsic to life and liberty and not an “elitist construct”.
His opinion in the privacy judgment in 2017 had declared the infamous ADM Jabalpur or Habeas Corpus case, which had held that citizens have no right to life and liberty during the Emergency period, as “seriously flawed”. The lead opinion in the ADM Jabalpur was authored by his father in 1976.
Justice Chandrachud’s judgments had also decriminalised Indian Penal Code Section 377 (consensual adult homosexual sex) and recently gave the government three months to take the lead and devise a policy framework to open up avenues of employment for transgender persons, particularly in the civil aviation industry.
He was part of the five-judge Bench which unanimously upheld the Hindu side’s claim to the title of the Ram Janmabhoomi land. Recently, a Bench led by Justice Chandrachud had in the Gyanvapi mosque case tried to strike balance by directing the District Magistrate of Varanasi to ensure the protection of the area where a Shivling was reported to be found while ordering that Muslims should not be restricted or impeded from accessing the mosque to offer namaaz or perform religious observances.