CJI: Chandrachud, a multi-faceted personality

J. Venkatesan

New Delhi: The former Chief Justice of India, Y.V. Chandrachud, had pronounced a large number of landmark and notable judgments having far-reaching implications and made a rich and everlasting contribution to the legal history of the Supreme Court, said Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan on Friday.

In a Full Court reference to the demise of Justice Chandrachud (who died on July 14 at the age of 88) held in the First Court Hall, Mr. Justice Balakrishnan described the former CJI as a multi-faceted personality and it would not be easy to fill the void created by his death.

Justice Chandrachud became a judge of the Supreme Court in August 1972 and was appointed CJI in February 1978. He had the longest tenure as CJI and demitted office in July 1985.

Recalling some of the judgments in which Justice Chandrachud was a party, Mr. Justice Balakrishnan said that in the Shah Bano Begum case, he upheld the right of a divorced Muslim woman to get maintenance under Section 125 Cr.PC. He held that the provision was aimed at preventing vagrancy and destitution and cut across the barriers of religion professed by the parties or the state of the personal law by which “they are governed.”

In the Kesavananda Bharati case, Justice Chandrachud held, “if the State fails to create conditions in which the fundamental freedoms could be enjoyed by all, the freedom of the few will be at the mercy of the many and then all freedoms will vanish.”

In the Minerva Mills case, he said: “Constitution is a precious heritage; you cannot destroy its identity. This harmony and balance between fundamental rights and Directive Principles is an essential feature of the basic structure of the Constitution.”

In the Maneka Gandhi case, he held that “Indian citizens are entitled to exercise right to free speech and expression wherever they choose, regardless of geographical limitations and the Constitution does not confer any power on the executive to prevent the exercise of such a right on foreign soil.”

Justice Chandrachud was a rare combination of unquestionable integrity, erudition and friendliness, who earned respect from all who interacted with him, the CJI said.

Attorney-General Milon Banerjee also paid tributes to Justice Chandrachud.

Krishna Iyer’s remark

President of the Supreme Court Bar Association, P.H. Parekh, recalled the landmark judgments pronounced by Justice Chandrachud. He recalled Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer’s remark on Justice Chandrachud – “Justice Chandrachud was the rarest of rare as an accessible Chief on the Supreme Court Bench. He was a great judge. His vision was progressive, judgments were lucid, his jurisprudence was sound, his diction was exquisite and his performance on the Bench was perfect.”

Mr. Parekh said, “I adopt every word of Justice Krishna Iyer.”

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