Known as the ‘flag-bearer of dissent’, Chelameswar has been a part of several landmark judgements.

Thank you for the fight Wishes pour in as Justice Chelameswar demits office
news Law Friday, June 22, 2018 - 12:57

After a nearly seven-year-long tenure, the second-most senior judge of the Indian Supreme Court, Justice Jasti Chelameswar, will demit his office on Friday, as he turns 65. His official last day of work, however, was May 18, before the court shut for the summer.

Among many landmark judgements, the one event that perhaps cemented the name of Jasti Chelameswar in the minds of the people was an unprecedented judges press conference led by him on January 12. Justice Chelameswar, Justice Gogoi, Justice Kurien, and Justice Lokur had announced that the administration of the Supreme Court was not in order and released an undated letter that they wrote to the Chief Justice of India, Justice Dipak Misra. They raised issues that included the allocation of sensitive cases and the recommendation of judges for appointment to higher judiciary.

Read: Rebellion at the Supreme Court: 4 judges led by Justice Chelameswar take on CJI

Responses poured in for his retirement, with many thanking him for his service.

On his last official working day, despite being at loggerheads with CJI Misra, Chelameswar shared a bench with him, a custom and practice of the Supreme Court.

"I stood up for certain issues and values. Wherever I perceived that things were going wrong, I stood up, I raised questions... If something is good, it is to be preserved. If something is doubtful, it is to be checked and rectified, I had nothing personal against anyone in the system," Chelameswar said during his farewell event on May 19.

Known as the ‘flag-bearer of dissent’, Chelameswar has been a part of several landmark judgements. He was one of the few sitting judges to speak in favour of the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) which wanted to nullify the Collegium system for appointment of judges.

Read: SC chooses collegium over NJAC, but what was the debate all about? Explained

He was part of the bench that struck down the draconian Section 66A of the IT Act. He also presided over the Aadhaar hearings, which he referred to a Constitution Bench to decide the question of whether privacy was a fundamental right. He was part of the nine-judge bench that which declared privacy as a fundamental right.

Justice Chelameswar is the second of the five most senior judges of the Supreme Court who form a part of the Supreme Court's Collegium. The Collegium is tasked with appointing judges to the High Court and Supreme Courts. With Chelameswar demitting his office on Friday, the sixth senior-most judge Justice A K Sikri will now be a part of the five-member Collegium. This may cause further delay to the already deferred elevation of Uttarakhand High Court judge KM Joseph.

Read: Who is Justice Jasti Chelameswar? A look at the Supreme Court’s No. 2 judge

Also read: Don’t go, sir!: TN students cling on to their teacher, refuse to accept his transfer

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