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Home > News > PTI

Justice Y K Sabharwal sworn in as Chief Justice of India

November 01, 2005 17:45 IST

Justice Yogesh Kumar Sabharwal was sworn in as the Chief Justice of India by President A P J Abdul Kalam Tuesday.

Sixty-three year old Justice Sabharwal, who succeeds Justice R C Lahoti as CJI, will have a term of 14 months which ends on January 14, 2007.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi, leader of opposition Lal Kishenchand Advani, several Cabinet ministers, judges of the Supreme Court and high courts, law officers and senior advocates graced the swearing-in ceremony in the Darbar Hall of Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Members of Justice Sabharwal's family, including his mother, were present on the occasion. Immediately after taking oath of office in English, the CJI went straight to his aged mother and sought her blessings amidst loud applause.

He assumes the high office at a time when an intense debate is on over the existence of death penalty in the penal code in the wake of the suggestion of President Kalam that a humanitarian approach should be considered while dealing with the mercy petitions of condemned prisoners.

Interestingly, the CJI has taken a different view of the issue than his predecessor Justice R C Lahoti, who on his last day of office Monday, strongly supported retention of death penalty in the statute.

Justice Sabharwal, after his appointment as CJI, had favoured abolition of the death penalty. He had said as a judge of the apex court, he was not against the capital sentence in rarest of rare cases, but personally he wanted the capital punishment to be erased from the penal code.

"I am of the view that as per the provisions of law, death penalty should be awarded in the rarest of rare cases. But, if you ask my opinion as a citizen of the country, I am for abolition of death penalty," CJI had told reporters in reply to a question on death row mercy pleas.

As a judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Sabharwal delivered several important judgements dealing with constitutional matters, including the recent verdict on the dissolution of Bihar Assembly.

A Constitution bench headed by Justice Sabharwal on October 7 had held as "unconstitutional" the dissolution of Bihar Assembly on the basis of the report of Governor Buta Singh, but had declined to revive the House, paving way for the
four-phase elections which are underway.

He has been handling several important matters, including public interest litigations relating to forest and environmental issues and one on diminishing tiger population from Sariska National Park, which required the intervention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at government level.

Justice Sabharwal is also heading a bench monitoring the ambitious river inter-linking project.

He was also part of the bench, which had cancelled the petrol pump licences granted under the discretionary quota of minister.

Justice Sabharwal dealt with the politically-sensitive JMM bribery case, medical scam and unauthorised constructions in the capital.

Born on January 14, 1942, Justice Sabharwal mainly practised in civil and constitutional cases and was elevated as an additional judge of the Delhi High Court on November 17, 1986, and became its permanent judge on April 29, 1987.

Justice Sabharwal later went on to become the Chief Justice of Bombay High Court on February 3, 1999, from where he was elevated as the judge of the apex court on January 28, 2000, the day of the golden jubilee of Supreme Court.

He has also served as chairman, Supreme Court Legal Services Committee. Besides, he was also the executive chairman of National Legal Services Authority.

Justice Sabharwal also headed theConservation of Foreign Exchange and Pervention of Smuggling Act Board as its chairman.

As an advocate, he actively participated in Bar activites and held various positions, including the post of secretary and president of the Delhi High Court Bar Association.

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