New Delhi| Aug,27 : Justice UU Lalit, the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court, was on Saturday sworn-in as the 49th Chief Justice of India.
President Draupadi Murmu administered the oath of office to Justice Lalit at a brief ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhawan . The swearing-in ceremony was attended by Vice President Jagdeep Dhankar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Law Minister Kiren Rijiju, outgoing CJI NV Ramana, sitting and former judges of the Supreme Court, union ministers, senior lawyers and various other dignitaries from the field of law and politics.
Outgoing CJI Ramana had on August 3 recommended to the Centre to appoint Justice Lalit — the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court — as his successor and the next CJI. Justice Ramana – who took over as the 48th CJI on April 24, 2021 –retired on August 26 at the age of 65.
Appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court on August 13, 2014 directly from the Bar, Justice Lalit would take over as the 49th CJI on August 27, 2022. He would retire on November 8, 2022 and would have a 74-day tenure as the CJI.
On Friday, Justice Lalit announced that he would strive to have one Constitution Bench functioning throughout the year; streamline the system of urgent mentioning and bring transparency to the system. There has been a convention of the CJI recommending the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court as his successor. Only twice, it was not followed – Justice AN Ray was appointed the CJI on April 25, 1973 superseding three senior-most judges and Justice MH Beg was appointed the CJI on January 29, 1977 superseding Justice HR Khanna.
Born on November 9, 1957, Justice Lalit got enrolled as an advocate in June 1983 and practised in the Bombay High Court till December 1985 before shifting his practice to Delhi in January 1986. He was designated as senior advocate by the Supreme Court in April 2004 and appeared as amicus curiae in several important cases and was appointed Special Public Prosecutor for the CBI to conduct trial in all 2G matters under the orders of the Supreme Court. Justice UU Lalit — the 6th senior advocate to be directly elevated from the Bar to the Supreme Court — is the son of Justice UR Lalit, a former Additional Judge of the Bombay High Court, Nagpur Bench.
After practising in the Bombay High Court between 1983 and 1985, he joined the chambers of Former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee in 1986 and continued with him till 1992. He was designated as a senior lawyer. He was appointed by the Supreme Court as the CBI’s Special Public Prosecutor in all 2G scam related cases. Justice Lalit was a part of a five-judge Constitution Bench which in 2017 in the Shayara Bano case, declared instant triple talaq to be unconstitutional. He headed the Bench which in 2020 upheld the Shebait rights of the Travancore royal family in the administration of Shree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Kerala.
He was also a part of the Bench which ruled that the minimum period of six months stipulated under Section 13B(2) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 for a motion for passing decree of divorce on the ground of mutual consent was not mandatory and that it will be open to the court to exercise its discretion in the facts and circumstances of each case.