Expectations are high as Justice DY Chandrachud is expected to take office as Chief Justice of India on November 9.
Son of former CJI YV Chandrachud, Judge Chandrachud will head the nation’s highest court for just over two years, an ‘unprecedented’ development in this decade, giving him plenty of time to rule. on some of the vexing questions that are brewing. Across the country.
The future CJI has the qualities that will keep it well positioned for the challenges ahead. Judge Chandracud is an early riser (he gets up at 3:30 a.m.) and a man of frugal eating habits.
He is also respected for his intellectual ability, renowned for his culture — lawyers seem to enjoy appearing before him — and a liberal-minded judge, a quality which is reflected in his judgments, particularly when it comes to questions concerning the rights of women. and the marginalized.
But there are also those who fear he could stand up to a strong executive.
In an interview with a news portal, former SC Bar Association President Dushyant Dave said that in politically sensitive matters such as Ayodhya, Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, Judge Chandrachud had been disappointing. Many believe that it was Judge Chandrachud who wrote the Ayodhya judgment.
Among the myriad challenges are a slew of high-profile cases – the repeal of Section 370, the validity of the Citizenship Amendment Act and the Voting Obligations System – the outcome of which will have huge political ramifications.
On the judicial front, a mountain of cases, a lack of adequate infrastructure and a backlog in the administration of justice are some of the issues that Judge Chandrachud will need to address urgently.
Based on the experience of the Covid-19 pandemic, many believe that digitization will certainly receive a big boost during his tenure.
“By the end of his tenure, we could see complete digitalization. He is the one pushing lawyers and judges to undergo training and adopt a digital mode for efficient functioning,” said a seasoned lawyer .
As Chairman of the Supreme Court’s Electronic Committee, Justice Chandrachud ensured the publication of draft Model Rules for Live Streaming and Recording of Court Proceedings to make the court system more accessible. “Access to justice is a fundamental right. The Supreme Court is not the preserve of the rich and elite, it must be accessible to ordinary people. Thus, virtual courts would continue to operate with greater efficiency,” said lead solicitor P Wilson.
Having been part of the landmark decision in the Swapnil Tripathi case (2018) allowing live streaming, Judge Chandrachud indicated that the court was trying to institutionalize the process.
As head of the Collegium, he will have a fairly important role in filling vacancies in the High Courts and the Supreme Court.
As of October 1, out of a total sanctioned complement of 1,108 judges, 25 High Courts were managed with 772 judges, with 336 vacancies. During his tenure, he will have to appoint 17 justices to the Supreme Court, which operates with half of the total sanctioned complement of 34 justices.
But that’s easier said than done as the executive will test his patience during the appointments.
There is also the issue of diversity in the justice system. “There’s no explanation why the SC hasn’t appointed even a single Schedule Tribes judge even after 70 years,” Wilson said, hoping to see that stain corrected.
Senior Counsel Siddharth Luthra opined that Justice Chandrachud will have to work on increasing trial-level tribunals and streamlining judicial appointments. “And I hope he will try to ensure that vacancies are filled in advance at all levels of the courts rather than through a post-retirement and post-vacancy process,” he said. -he declares.
Wilson also highlighted the issue of raising the retirement age of High Court judges from 62 to 65 to avoid a race among them to reach the Supreme Court.
“He (Judge Chandrachud) has a substantially long tenure which is unprecedented in this decade, and therefore has a great opportunity and responsibility to make the Supreme Court more cohesive by emphasizing consistency in judicial philosophy,” he said. said Luther.
Many believe that Justice Chandrachud would ensure that the constitutional bench becomes a permanent part of the Supreme Court.
With him on the stand, lawyers also believe there could be a time limit on lawyers’ arguments as a self-regulatory mechanism.
“He will also have to deal with the wait, and the constitutional benches already in place will have to hear and decide long-standing issues such as the money bill,” Luthra said.
Another senior lawyer, who did not wish to be named, expressed optimism about the future of the Supreme Court. “The independence of the judiciary will get a big boost” in Judge Chandrachud’s tenure, he said.
“He is held in high esteem by the bar and the executive for his intellectual abilities. We can safely say that the baton has passed into good hands,” he added.