New Delhi, Jul 2 (PTI) Supreme Court judge Justice Ashok Bhushan who is set to retire on July 4, has been a part of several landmark verdicts ranging from the historic Ayodhya land dispute case to upholding the validity of biometric ID Aadhaar as also the one which held that the Chief Justice of India is the 'master of the roster' and has the prerogative to allocate cases.
With the retirement of Justice Bhushan, the sixth senior-most judge of the apex court, the strength of judges there will come down to 26 as against the sanctioned strength of 34 including the CJI.
Elevated as an apex court judge on May 13, 2016, Justice Bhushan was part of benches delivering path-breaking verdicts including the one which recognised that a terminally-ill patient or a person in persistent vegetative state can execute an 'advance medical directive' or a 'living will' to refuse medical treatment.
He was part of the five-judge Constitution bench which had in November 2019 cleared the way for construction of Ram Temple at the disputed site at Ayodhya and directed the Centre to allot a five-acre plot to the Sunni Waqf Board for building a mosque.
He was also part of a five-judge bench which had in September 2018 declared the Centre's flagship Aadhaar scheme as constitutionally valid but struck down some of its provisions including its linking with bank accounts, mobile phones and school admissions.
Justice Bhushan was a part of the July 2018 verdict in which the apex court had held that Delhi cannot be accorded the status of a state but clipped the powers of Lieutenant Governor, saying he has no 'independent decision making power' and has to act on the aid and advice of the elected government.
He was part of a nine-judge Constitution bench of the top court which had in February last year held that its five-judge bench can refer questions of law to a larger bench while exercising its limited power under review jurisdiction in the Sabarimala temple case.
The nine-judge bench had also framed seven questions on the scope of religious freedom in various religions.
Justice Bhushan was heading the bench which had this week termed as “unpardonable” the Centre's “apathy and lackadaisical attitude” towards creating National Database for Unorganised Workers and ordered its commencement by July 31 so that all migrant workers are registered this year and welfare measures extended to them during COVID-19 distress.
Justice Bhushan headed bench on June 30 had directed the National Disaster Management Authority to issue fresh guidelines for providing minimum standards of financial help to families of those who lost their lives to COVID-19.
The bench headed by him has passed several orders to alleviate the plight of migrant workers during the COVID-19 induced lockdown in the country.
A five-judge bench headed by Justice Bhushan had in May this year refused to refer to a larger bench the issue whether to revisit its 29-year-old Mandal verdict putting cap on quotas at 50 per cent and quashed a Maharashtra law granting reservations to Marathas in admissions and government jobs in the state, saying it violated the principle of right to equality.
Recently, a five-judge bench headed by him dismissed the Centre's plea seeking review of the May 5 majority verdict which held that 102nd Constitution amendment took away states' power to declare Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) for grant of quota in jobs and admissions.
The 102nd Constitution amendment Act of 2018 inserted Articles 338B, which deals with the structure, duties and powers of the NCBC, while 342A deals with power of the President to notify a particular caste as SEBC and power of Parliament to change the list.
A two-judge bench, which also comprised Justice Bhushan, had in July 2018 held that the CJI is the 'master of the roster' and there is no dispute that he has the ultimate authority to allocate cases.
In November 2017, a five-judge bench of the apex court had said that the CJI is the master of the roster.
Justice Bhushan, born in 1956 at Jaunpur district in Uttar Pradesh, had obtained law degree from Allahabad University in 1979 and was enrolled as an advocate with the Bar Council of Uttar Pradesh on April 6, 1979.
He was elevated as permanent judge of the Allahabad High Court on April 24, 2001. He was sworn in as a judge of the Kerala High Court on July 10, 2014.
Justice Bhushan was sworn in as the chief justice of Kerala High Court in March 2015. PTI ABA MNL SJK SA