All you need to know about new CJI Sharad Bobde

Justice Sharad Bobde was sworn in today as the new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India. He succeeds outgoing Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi. Here’s a brief profile of CJI Sharad Bobde.

Justice Bobade

63-year-old Bobde graduated from SFS College Nagpur and studied law at Dr. Ambedkar Law College at Nagpur University. He enrolled as an advocate with the Bar Council of Maharashtra in September 1978 and practiced at the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court. He has also appeared before the principal seat at Mumbai and also before the Supreme Court. In 1998, he became a senior advocate. In March 2000, he was appointed as an Additional Judge at the Bombay High Court. In October 2012 he was appointed Chief Justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court. On April 12, 2013, Justice Bobde was elevated as a judge of the Supreme Court.

Key judgments

Justice Bobde was a part of the five-judge bench that recently delivered the Ayodhya verdict. He was also part of the 9-judge-bench that delivered the landmark privacy judgment.

In 2016, when activist Harsh Mander challenged the Bombay High Court order upholding the discharge of BJP Chief Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case, Justice Bobde and Justice Ashok Bhushan rejected his plea and questioned his locus standi in the matter. In December 2014, just days after the mysterious death of Judge BH Loya, a trial court in Mumbai had given a clean chit to Shah in the case and the decision was upheld by the Bombay HC.

Also, in 2016, Justice Bobde was part of a bench along with justices TS Thakur and AK Sikri that suspended the sale of firecrackers ahead of Diwali in the National Capital Region due to concerns about pollution and air quality. He along with Justice SA Nazeer had also presided over the case when firecracker manufacturers pleaded against a ban on firecrackers in Delhi. Here Justice Bobde reportedly observed that they did not intend to generate unemployment for firecracker industry workers if there were to be a complete ban on firecrackers. He had also reportedly observed that, “People are gunning for firecrackers, but the bigger pollutant is vehicles… Had the normal pollution level been low, then we could have managed better.”   

While in February 2017 Justice Bobde was a part of a bench that turned down a woman’s request to abort her foetus suffering from Down’s Syndrome, in August 2017, he was also part of a bench that allowed medical termination of pregnancy in a case where the fetus did not have a skull or scalp.  

Justice Bobde was also a part of a 7 judge bench that presided over the Abhiram Singh v C.D. Commachen where he sided with the majority that held that an appeal for votes based on the religion of the voter or the candidate constituted an offense under the Representation of People Act, 1951.

The Wire cites legal research firm Manupatra’s Judge Analytics to say that Justice Bobde has been a part of 424 benches that have delivered verdicts, but he himself has actually authored only 62 judgments. 

When Bobde was practicing law, he appeared for Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray who had then been accused to making bribery allegations against a judge at a Dussera rally. Speaking to Indian Express, Nagpur based advocate Prateek Rajurkar explained Bobde’s arguments in defense of Thackeray saying, “He argued that under Section 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, the consent of the Advocate General was necessary for a private person to approach this court as it operates as a filter to eliminate vexatious or frivolous litigations, which are calculated to harass the opponent or for political vendetta, and then to save time of the court. However, in this case, no consent has been received from the Advocate General.” The Bombay HC rejected this argument and sentenced Thackeray to a week in prison, but when the Shiv Sena appealed against it in the Supreme Court, the apex court upheld Bobde’s arguments.



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