Justice Uday Umesh Lalit, who has been appointed the 49th Chief Justice of India (CJI) will assume charge on August 27, a day after Justice N.V. Ramana demits office as the CJI.
He will have a brief tenure of less than three months as the CJI and he would retire on November 8, 2022. He becomes the second Chief Justice of India who is directly elevated to the Supreme CourtBench from the Bar. Justice SM Sikri was the first lawyer to be elevated directly to the top court Bench in March 1964 and went on to become the 13th CJI in January 1971.
LALIT; WAY TO SC
Enrolled as an Advocate in June 1983, Lalit practiced in the High Court of Bombay until December 1985. He then shifted his practice to Delhi in January 1986. In April 2004, he was designated as a senior advocate by the apex court. He appeared as Amicus Curiae in many matters. The Apex Courtappointed him as Special Public Prosecutor for CBI to conduct trial in all 2G matters. He was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court on August 13, 2014.
LALIT; LANDMARK VERDICTS
Justice Lalit has been part of several landmark judgements. He was part of the five-judge bench that in August 2017, “set aside” the centuries-old practice of instant triple talaq in which Muslim men divorce their wives by uttering talaq three times in quick succession. Justice Lalit headed the bench that in July sentenced Liquor Baron Vijay Mallya, who was found guilty of contempt of court in 2017, to four months’ imprisonment and fine of Rs 2,000. He also headed the bench that convicted the fugitive businessman for contempt in May 2017.
He also headed the bench that in July 2020 upheld the rights of the erstwhile royals of Travancore in the administration of Sree Padmanabha SwamyTemple in Thiruvananthapuram.
In another significant judgement, Justice Lalit headed bench ruled that touching sexual parts of a child’s body or any act involving physical contact with ‘sexual intent’ amounts to ‘sexual assault’ under section 7 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act as the most important ingredient is sexual intent and not skin-to-skin contact.