President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday appointed Supreme Court judge Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde as the next Chief Justice of India (CJI). Justice Bobde will officially take charge as the next CJI from November 18, a day after the incumbent CJI Justice Ranjan Gogoi is set to complete his tenure.
“In the exercise of the powers conferred by clause(2) of Article 124 of the Constitution of India, the President is pleased to appoint Shri Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde, Judge of the Supreme Court, to be the Chief Justice of India with effect from 18th November, 2019,” the notification issued by the Ministry of Law and Justice states.
Justice Bobde will be the 47th CJI, and will have a tenure of almost one-and-a-half-years, with his term set to end on April 23, 2021. He is the second judge from Maharashtra’s Nagpur region to be appointed CJI after Mohammad Hidayatullah (1968-1970).
Born in 1956 in Nagpur, Justice Bobde comes from a family of lawyers. His father, Arvind Shriniwas Bobde, was a two-time advocate general of the Maharashtra government. Justice Bobde’s brother Vinod Bobde was also a constitutional lawyer.
Justice Bobde was appointed an additional judge of the Bombay High Court in 2000, just two years after he was designated a senior advocate. He had practiced for over 21 years and was involved in several high-profile cases, including the Adarsh housing society scam and the PIL against Lavasa Corporation Limited.
He was sworn in as Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court in 2012 and was elevated to the Supreme Court in 2013.
In his over six-year tenure as a Supreme Court judge, Justice Bobde has been part of benches dealing with important judicial matters, including the Ayodhya title dispute, where the verdict is expected to be delivered before November 17. He was also part of the nine-member constitution bench that recognised privacy as a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution in August 2017.
“Not recognising character of privacy as a fundamental right is likely to erode the very sub-stratum of the personal liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. The decided cases clearly demonstrate that particular fundamental rights could not have been exercised without the recognition of the right of privacy as a fundamental right. Any derecognition or diminution in the importance of the right of privacy will weaken the fundamental rights which have been expressly conferred,” Justice Bobde had observed in the landmark Privacy judgment.
Justice Bobde was also part of the three-judge bench which passed an interim verdict on May 18, 2018 which set aside the order of Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala granting Chief Minister B S Yedddyurappa 15 days to prove his party’s majority, and instead directed that a floor test be conducted within 24 hours.
On the administrative side, Justice Bobde headed the first-of-its-kind three-member in-house committee, also comprising of Justices Indira Banerjee and Indu Malhotra, which gave a clean chit to CJI Gogoi, who was facing allegations of sexual harassment leveled by a former SC staffer.
A few of the other important decisions passed by Justice Bobde include the two-judge order passed in 2017, where the court rejected a woman’s plea seeking termination of her foetus after reviewing a medical report that the 26-week-old foetus had a chance of survival; and a 2016 order passed by a three-judge bench, which suspended the sale of firecrackers in the National Capital Region, citing extreme pollution.
Justice Bobde is among the seven judges of the Supreme Court who have disclosed their assets on the apex court’s website.