NEW DELHI: Justice Nuthalapati Venkata Ramana on Saturday took charge as the 48th Chief Justice of India after President Ram Nath Kovind administered oath of office to him at a brief ceremony in Rashtrapati Bhavan attended by Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu, PM Narendra Modi, law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, SC judges and a small number of dignitaries.
A god-fearing man, Justice Ramana sought blessings of archakas from Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam and Srisailam Devasthanam before taking oath in the name of God to discharge his duties as CJI without fear or favour.
Though Saturday is not a working day for judges, the CJI drove straight to SC from Rashtrapati Bhavan and held a meeting with senior judges to discuss the future process to be adopted for adjudication of cases.
Since the Covid pandemic took hold in India in March last year, the SC has been dispensing justice via videoconferencing mode. Most judges were of the opinion that the virtual conference mode should continue till the Covid situation is under control. The CJI would continue his deliberation with the judges about advancing the summer break to allow the court to take measures to vaccinate all its staff members and help out the families of staff who have been infected with coronavirus.
The CJI also took note of the representation by the SC Bar Association for introduction of a Rs 100 lawyers welfare stamp to be affixed on vakalatnamas for creating a corpus that would be utilised for giving financial aid to lawyers in distress due to loss of income due to disruption of physical hearings as well as for families whose lawyer bread winners have succumbed to Covid.
Justice Ramana was a first generation lawyer born in an agricultural family in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh. After his student activist days, he had briefly experimented with journalism by working in a Telugu newspaper before choosing to be an advocate.
He was appointed as judge of Andhra Pradesh HC in 2001, chief justice of Delhi HC in September 2013 and a judge of SC in February 2014.
A soft-spoken person, Justice Ramana has given hard-hitting judgments including the ruling on providing 4G internet in J&K, where the government had suspended high-speed internet after scrapping the state’s special status under Article 370. The Justice Ramana-led bench had ruled that “access to internet” is a fundamental right.
A bench headed by him had also brought the CJI’s office under the Right to Information Act. Justice Ramana-led bench had directed speeding up trials pending for years against sitting and former MPs and MLAs. He faced accusations from Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, who faces trial in a dozen cases probed by the CBI and ED. Last month, then CJI S A Bobde had dismissed Reddy’s complaint against Justice Ramana.
Justice Ramana will face many challenges in his tenure. including achieving a consensus in the Collegium, which now also comprises of Justices R F Nariman, U U Lalit, A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, for filling the six vacancies in the SC.