Former Chief Justice of India Y K Sabharwal passed away on Friday at the age of 73. He had suffered a brain stroke in 2014 and was not keeping well since.
Born on January 14, 1942, Justice Sabharwal mainly practised in civil and constitutional cases. He was elevated as an additional judge of the Delhi High Court in 1986 and became its permanent judge in April 1987.
He later went on to become the Chief Justice of Bombay High Court in 1999, from where he was elevated as a judge of the apex court on January 28, 2000, the day of the golden jubilee of Supreme Court.
Justice Sabharwal was appointed as the CJI in 2005 and retired after a term of 14 months. After his appointment as the CJI, he had favoured abolition of the death penalty. He had said that while the statute prescribed for the capital sentence in the rarest of rare cases, he personally opined that capital punishment should be erased from the penal code.
As a judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Sabharwal delivered several important judgments dealing with constitutional matters, including the verdict in January 2006, that held the dissolution of Bihar Assembly as illegal and unconstitutional.
In 2007, Justice Sabharwal, while heading a nine-judge constitution bench, ruled that there could not be any blanket immunity from judicial review of laws inserted in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution.
The judgment held that all laws placed under the Ninth Schedule after April 24, 1973, shall be open to be challenged in court if they violate the fundamental rights.
Justice Sabharwal also headed a bench monitoring river inter-linking projects in the country. He was also part of the bench that had cancelled petrol pump licences granted under the discretionary quota of ministers. He dealt with the politically-sensitive JMM bribery case, medical scam cases and cases concerning unauthorised construction in the Capital.
The former CJI had set in motion the process of sealing properties in designated residential areas of Delhi which were being used for commercial purposes. His presence on this bench, however, courted some controversy after it was later known that his two sons had links with the real estate business in Delhi.