Bharucha takes over as new CJI

NEW DELHI, NOV. 1. Mr. Justice Sam Piroj Bharucha, seniormost Judge of the Supreme Court, was today sworn in the new Chief Justice of India (CJI). He succeeds Dr. Justice A.S. Anand, who retired on Wednesday.

The President, Mr. K.R. Narayanan, administered the oath of office to Mr. Justice Bharucha at a brief ceremony held at the Ashoka Hall of the Rashtrapathi Bhavan. The Prime Minister, Mr. A.B. Vajpayee, the Union Home Minister, Mr. L.K. Advani, the Law Minister, Mr. Arun Jaitley and other Cabinet Ministers, the Lok Sabha Speaker, Mr. G.M.C. Balayogi, former and present Supreme Court and High Court Judges and eminent lawyers were among those who attended the function.

Mr. Justice Bharucha (64), who enrolled as an advocate of the Bombay High Court on July 28, 1960, practised mainly on the original side in both the High Court and in the Supreme court.

He was appointed Additional Judge of the Bombay High Court from September 19, 1977 and as permanent Judge on April 3, 1978.

Appointed and transferred as the Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court from November 1, 1991, he was made a Judge of the Supreme Court on July 1, 1992. He is due to retire on May 6, 2002.

As a member of the Supreme Court Bench, Mr. Justice Bharucha has rendered some landmark judgments, including the recent quashing of the appointment of the AIADMK supremo, Ms. Jayalalithaa, as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu by the then Governor, Ms. Fathima Beevi, on May 14.

Presiding over a five-Judge Bench, Mr. Justice Bharucha gave a new interpretation to Article 164 (4) of the Constitution that qualifications and disqualifications prescribed under the Constitution for a Member of the Assembly would be applicable in the matter of appointment of a non-Member as Minister or Chief Minister under Article 164 (4).

In the Veerappan case last year, Mr. Justice Bharucha set aside the order of the Karnataka Government to withdraw the TADA cases against certain accused and the TADA court's order granting bail to certain accused to facilitate the release of the matinee idol, Mr. Rajkumar, who was kidnapped by the forest brigand.

In the Narmada Bachao Andolan case, Mr. Justice Bharucha differed from the majority opinion and delivered the minority judgment holding that construction activity at the dam site should be stopped till environmental clearance and rehabilitation of the dam oustees were completed.

In the `JMM MPs bribery case' in 1998, Mr. Justice Bharucha, as part of a Constitution Bench, held that if an MP received a bribe but voted in consideration of the same in Parliament, he would not be liable for an offence in view of the immunity under Article 105 (2) of the Constitution. And that if an MP after receiving a bribe did not vote in Parliament, he would be liable for prosecution.

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