Former Chief Justice of India HL Dattu on Monday took charge as the Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). He is the seventh Chairperson of the Commission. Justice KG Balakrishnan completed his tenure on May 11, last year following which member of the Commission Justice Cyriac Joseph held charge as the acting Chairperson.
Justice Dattu has been associated with several significant judgments. He was on the bench that expanded the Indian jurisprudence on death sentence cases by commuting the death penalty of terror convict Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar to life term over mental illness and an inordinate delay in deciding his mercy plea by the government.
Justice Dattu also headed the bench that acquitted 11 persons charged under terror laws telling the Gujarat police that no innocent person should be branded a terrorist and put behind bars simply because he belongs to a minority community.
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Empathising with the ‘My name is Khan but I am not a terrorist’ lament, the Supreme Court on Wednesday said law cannot be abused to harass any person owning to his religion. He pronounced a landmark ruling with the observation that “bail is the rule and jail an exception” while granting bail to five big corporate in the 2G case.
He was on the Constitution Bench that declared as “unconstitutional” a law enacted by Kerala to restrict water level in the Mullaperiyar dam to 136 feet, while protecting the legal right of Tamil Nadu.
Born on December 3, 1950 in Chikamagaluru district of Karnataka, Justice Dattu, after completing his early education in Kadur, Tarikere and Birur, moved to Bengaluru to pursue his higher studies. He completed his LLB from Bengaluru and enrolled at the Karnataka Bar Council on October 23, 1975 as an advocate and pleaded in civil, criminal, constitutional and taxation matters.
He was appointed as a Judge of the Karnataka High Court on December 18, 1995 and elevated as the Chief Justice of the Chhattisgarh High Court on February 12, 2007. On May 18, 2007, he was transferred to head the Kerala High Court. He was elevated as the Judge of the Supreme Court December 17, 2008 and was appointed as the Chief Justice of India on September 28, 2014. He retired on December 2, 2015.