After the President appointed him Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court, Justice Dipankar Dutta of the Calcutta High Court made a 2,000 km, three-day road journey starting April 25, to reach Mumbai and take up his new assignment, as there was no other way to get here amid the lockdown.
Justice Dutta, who was scheduled to arrive in Mumbai late Monday, will take the oath of office on Tuesday evening at Raj Bhavan. Sources in the HC said he opted for the road journey to assume office without any delay.
The April 23 notification of Justice Dutta’s appointment came after the Supreme Court collegium on April 19 recommended his elevation as the Chief Justice (CJ) of Bombay High Court. Thereafter, the Calcutta HC registry on April 24 informed the Bombay HC registrar general to make necessary arrangements for Justice Dutta to reach his designated residence in Mumbai on Monday, April 27.
Justice Datta’s route to Mumbai took him first to Bhubaneshwar, where after a brief lunch stop, he and his son set off for Vishakhapatnam. They halted the night there, leaving early the next morning. Their next stop was Vijayawada, where they stopped for lunch. From there, Justice Datta and his son headed towards Solapur where they halted on Sunday night. On Monday, they halted in Pune, and were expected in Mumbai by the evening.
The Calcutta HC registry had asked the Bombay HC administration to move the Maharashtra government to consider Justice Dutta, his family members and court officials travelling with him, as state guests once they entered the state, and extend facilities to them accordingly.
Tuesday’s oath taking ceremony will take place before a select gathering at Raj Bhavan. “In view of the current situation, only a limited number of guests, including the chief minister, deputy chief minister and a few HC judges, have been invited to the ceremony,” a release from the Governor’s office said.
The departing Bombay HC Chief Justice, Bhushan P Dharmadhikari, who was sworn in on March 20, served his last day in office on Monday, April 27. Justice Dharmadhikari, who has served as a Bombay HC judge for nearly 16 years, will attain his retirement age of 62 on April 28. He was appointed as acting CJ on February 24 after former CJ Pradeep Nandrajog’s retirement.
Justice Dutta, second seniormost judge of the Calcutta HC, was born in February 1965. He obtained his LLB degree from University of Calcutta in 1989. He enrolled as an advocate the same year and practiced in the Supreme Court and HCs, dealing with constitutional and civil cases.
Justice Dutta has served as the junior standing counsel for West Bengal between May 2002 and January 2004, and as a counsel for the Union government since 1998. He was elevated as a permanent judge of the Calcutta HC on June 22, 2006.