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Justice NV Ramana sworn in as India’s 48th Chief Justice of India
Ramana had appealed to stakeholders and experts to provide a sustainable and inclusive model of modernisation
63-year-old justice Nuthalapati Venkata Ramana, the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court was on Saturday sworn in as the 48th Chief Justice of India by President Ram Nath Kovind at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
The oath-taking ceremony took place at 11 am in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Venkaiah Naidu, several other dignitaries, and most of the judges of the Supreme Court and several of them from High Courts of various states.
Justice Ramana will have a one-year and four months term as chief justice till August 26, 2022.
He is seen as a conventional judge, soft-spoken, very restrained in his speech but very vocal and clear in his judgments, a champion of constitutional rights, democratic values, and accountability.
Justice Ramana was born in a humble family of farmers in Ponnavaram village of Andhra Pradesh’s Krishna district.
He was a student leader who fought for civil liberties during the nationwide Emergency in 1975 and even sacrificed an academic year to be part of the agitation.
Before he joined a law college in 1980, justice Ramana worked as a journalist for a regional newspaper for two years. Justice Ramana was appointed a permanent judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in 2000 and was elevated as chief justice of the Delhi high court in 2013. On February 17, 2014, he was elevated as a Supreme Court judge.
Over the years, justice Ramana has been a part of several landmark judgments. He headed the bench in January 2020 which ruled that access to the internet is a fundamental right and pulled up the government for indefinite internet blockade in J&K following the abrogation of Art 370.
He heads the bench which ordered fast-tracking of cases pending against public representatives, CMs MPs, and MLAs (former and present and complete trial within a year.
Justice Ramana delivered another important verdict in the Karnataka assembly case, clarifying the legal position that disqualification under the Tenth Schedule for defection could not operate as a bar for contesting re-election.
The decks for CJI Bobde to recommend Justice Ramana’s name came when after an in-house procedure the SC dismissed a complaint sent by CM of Andhra Pradesh Jagan Mohan Reddy against Justice Ramana.
Reddy in a letter written to Chief Justice SA Bobde alleged a nexus between his principal rival, his predecessor N Chandrababu Naidu, and Justice Ramana who also belongs to Andhra Pradesh, and alleged that the SC judge was influencing Andhra High Court judges to destabilize his government and also helping Naidu in land scam cases against him.
At the inauguration of the new building of the Bombay HC at Goa recently, Justice NV Ramana highlighted the need for the modernisation of judicial infrastructure in the country and urged the creation of a national judicial infrastructure corporation as a one-time measure to cater to the needs of judicial infrastructure in the country.
“We have all witnessed courts operating from dilapidated structures, rented premises, and without proper record rooms. There are premises without washrooms, waiting rooms, and disabled-friendly rooms for litigants and lawyers This has an adverse impact on the qualitative dispensation of justice, and it is, therefore, important for the judiciary to concentrate its efforts on modernisation of the system”, he said.
Ramana had appealed to stakeholders and experts to provide a sustainable and inclusive model of modernisation of the judicial infrastructure in the country.
“Undeniably, strengthening the judicial infrastructure is the most important tool to reduce pendency of cases. However, the understanding of judicial infrastructure has to move beyond the issues of pendency, vacancies, and a number of courtrooms. It should involve upgradation and a barrier-free, citizen-free environment,” Ramana said.
Accessibility can be assessed when a person with the maximum disadvantage can still knock on the doors of justice, he added. Bobde too stressed the importance of modernising existing courtrooms.
“I see a trend of having smaller court rooms in the future because of (Union law minister) Ravi Shankar Prasad’s ministry,” he said, adding that e-filing will do away with the requirement of rooms to store physical records.