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CJI Ramana: A determined, courageous reformer

He led from the front to end the 21-month impasse in the Supreme Court Collegium
shish Tripathi
Last Updated : 22 August 2021, 02:53 IST
Last Updated : 22 August 2021, 02:53 IST
Last Updated : 22 August 2021, 02:53 IST
Last Updated : 22 August 2021, 02:53 IST

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Within months of becoming the Chief Justice of India, Justice N V Ramana looks firmly in the saddle, in the backdrop of judicial and administrative decisions taken by him.

He led from the front to end the 21-month impasse in the Supreme Court Collegium. Taking the helm from Justice S A Bobde, Justice Ramana created a record of sorts by sending nine names for appointment in the top court.

If those names are approved by the government, it would end the deadlock in the Collegium in view of reported insistence by Justice R F Nariman to include the name of Justice Akil Kureshi, Chief Justice of Tripura High Court in the list of elevation of judges.

Though eyebrows were raised over the absence of Justice Kureshi’s name, no formal protest has been launched so far. Justice Kureshi was in the news as the Gujarat High Court judge for remanding current Home Minister Amit Shah to the CBI custody in 2010 in the fake encounter case.

In a strategic move, legal experts feel, Justice Ramana waited for Justice Nariman to retire on August 12 before convening the Collegium meeting to avoid the prolonging of the stalemate on appointments. The non-controversial list of judges is likely to get the Centre’s nod.

After taking the charge as the CJI, Justice Ramana agreed to a long-pending demand of the Supreme Court Bar Association to ensure the nomination of lawyers practising in the SC for appointment as High Court judges, by allowing the Bar body to form a search committee. He assured the Association of convincing the Chief Justices of the High Courts to include the SC lawyers for consideration for appointment as judges.

The CJI has taken several remarkable decisions. Presiding over a bench, he decided to examine a bunch of petitions for an independent probe into controversy surrounding the alleged use of Pegasus spyware to snoop on activists, journalists, politicians and members of the judiciary—a case that is likely to put the Centre on the dock.

Justice Ramana, who has been hearing a case for speeding up the trial against former and sitting MPs and MLAs, ordered that no case against them can be withdrawn without a nod from the High Court.

In his Independence Day speech, the CJI, without reading from written text, showed his concern over the lack of debate in Parliament on the passage of laws. A day later, when a case came up before a bench led by him, Justice Ramana put the Union government on the mat for passing Tribunal Reforms Act without any debate in Parliament and with provisions already struck down by the top court.

For all these reasons, former Supreme Court judge, Justice V Gopala Gowda is all praise for him.

“So far, the tenure of Justice Ramana as the CJI has been excellent. His decisions have been very courageous. He is reviving the lost glory, dignity, majesty and independence of the Supreme Court. It is not only my view but feelings of cross-sections of society. This is the impression he has created over four months,” Justice Gowda said.

Justice Ramana’s speeches and observations are very relevant. He has dealt with cases listed before him in a “befitting way” and he should go on like this, the former judge added.

SCBA president Vikas Singh echoed similar sentiments. “So far his term has been encouraging. He is trying to put the Institution back on track and I hope he succeeds”.

Asked about the Collegium recommendations, he said, “I definitely have my reservations but for that I can’t blame Justice Ramana alone as
there are four other judges who have also agreed on the names. Really speaking, I can’t say it is his recommendations”.

Activists, however, feel the CJI has to speed up the listing of cases related to the validity of farms laws, the Citizenship Amendment Act, and Article 370, to restore the real faith of the people in the top court.

Justice Ramana, who had a brief stint as a journalist, revived the public relation office of the top court by ensuring the availability of text of speeches, a practice, hitherto, rarely observed among judges.

He ensured seamless access of courts to scribes by ordering the creation of a Mobile App for watching the proceedings conducted in virtual mode since March 2020.

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Published 22 August 2021, 02:53 IST

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