On Saturday, Justice U Lalit took oath as India’s 49th Chief Justice (CJI). Justice Lalit took the oath of office from President Droupadi Murmu during the swearing-in event in Rashtrapati Bhavan’s Durbar Hall. The new Chief Justice of India will serve until November 8, 2022. Having retired on Friday, he succeeds Chief Justice N V Ramana.

Justice Lalit outlined his priorities while speaking at the farewell of Chief Justice Ramana, hosted by the Supreme Court Bar Association. He pledged to “strive hard to make the process of listing cases as simple and transparent as possible,” make mentioning — the process by which attorneys bring urgent matters to the court’s attention — more accessible, and work to ensure that there is at least one Constitution bench operating throughout the year.

His elevation to the Supreme Court from the Bar in August 2014 makes him just the sixth lawyer to receive such an honor.

As a judge, CJI Lalit has played a significant role in the jurisprudential development of the nation. He enrolled as an advocate in June 1983. His father, U R Lalit, served as a second judge on the Bombay High Court’s Nagpur bench.

Major Hearings

He has also participated in several significant SC decisions. CJI Lalit sentenced Vijay Mallya to four months in prison and 2,000 rupees in fine. In May 2017, he presided over the bench that found the runaway businessman guilty of contempt.

He oversaw a bench that emphasized the significance of mitigating circumstances while dealing with death row inmates. The panel accorded weight to the role of a “mitigation investigator” in looking into the defendant’s past in a Madhya Pradesh case involving a man who was sentenced to death for the gangrape of a child. 

The court that affirmed the rights of the former Travancore royals in the management of the Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram in July 2020 was presided over by CJI Lalit. 

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