SA Bobde sworn in as 47th Chief Justice of India: 'Peacekeeper' of judiciary authored key judgments related to Ayodhya land dispute, Aadhaar

FP Staff

Editor's Note: Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde has been sworn in as the 47th Chief Justice of India, a day after incumbent Ranjan Gogoi demits office. This article, originally published on 18 October, 2019, is being republished in the view of the latest update. 


Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde, the second senior-most judge of the Supreme Court, was sworn in as the 47th Chief Justice of India on Monday and the oath was administered to him by President Ram Nath Kovind. He took the oath of office in the presence of Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Ministers Amit Shah, Dharmendra Pradhan, JP Nadda, Nirmala Sitharaman and Prakash Javadekar, former prime minister Manmohan Singh and former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.

Incumbent CJI Ranjan Gogoi had sent a letter to the Centre recommending Bobde as his successor. Justice Gogoi, who was sworn in as the 46th Chief Justice of India on 3 October 2018, ended his term on 17 November.

Justice Bobde will have a tenure of about 18 months. Justice Bobde, has had a long career in the apex court, first as a lawyer, then as a Supreme Court judge after his elevation in 2013.

Born on 24 April, 1956 at Nagpur, Maharashtra, Bobde hails from a family of illustrious lawyers. He is the grandson of a lawyer and son of Arvind Bobde, a former advocate-general of Maharashtra and a staunch Congressman. His elder brother, who passed away in 2016, was also a Supreme Court lawyer.

He passed his BA and LLB degrees from Nagpur University and got enrolled in the Roll of the Bar Council of Maharashtra in 1978.

Bobde practised law at the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court with appearances at Bombay before the Principal Seat and before the Honourable Supreme Court of India for over 21 years. He was designated as a senior advocate in 1998.

Then in March 2000, after a 22 year-long career as a lawyer, Bobde was elevated to the Bench of the Bombay High Court as an additional judge. He later rose through the ranks to be sworn in as Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court on 16 October 2012. He was elevated as a judge of Supreme Court of India on 12 April 2013. Justice Bobde is also the executive chairman of the National Legal Service Authority (NALSA) which is mandated to provide free legal services to the needy.

In his six-year-long stint as a Supreme Court judge, Bobde has presided upon several matters of importance and given several notable judgments. Bobde was part of the recent historic verdict that cleared the way for the construction of a Ram Temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya. He was also a part of the nine-judge bench that gave the landmark ruling recognising privacy as a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution.

He was a part of the three-judge bench along with Justices Jasti Chelameswar and Chokkalingam Nagappan that clarified that no Indian citizen should be deprived of basic services and government subsidies on the basis of the fact that he does not hold an Aadhaar.

Bobde was also a part of the bench that permitted a 26-year-old woman to abort a 25-weeks-old fetus after it was diagnosed with a neurological disorder that causes an absence of major portion of the skull and scalp.

However, apart from delivering and authoring several key judgments, a little known and much-needed role Bobde played was of a peacekeeper in the time of one of the worst crisis that hit the top judiciary.

According to News18, Justice Bobde was the one brokering peace between former chief justice of India Dipak Misra and the other members of collegium at the time €" Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph €" when they decided to go public about a persistent rift within the judiciary over allocation of cases.

Bobde was reportedly among the first people to call upon Justice Chelameswar after the press conference, and he was also reportedly in touch with Misra. Bobde, reports said, offered to devise a path of reconciliation and envisaged a new method of distribution of cases across the benches in the Supreme Court, which became a key to an amicable solution. He was also reportedly the one who suggested that speaking at public forum any further may precipitate the issues, which was one point that most voices from within the judiciary seemed to agree upon, and later this restraint became the bedrock of a compromise.

Also See: Daily Bulletin: Winter Session of Parliament to begin today, BJP set to push Citizenship (Amendment) Bill; Justice SA Bobde to take oath as CJI today; day's top stories

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