Justice Palanisamy Sathasivam took over as the 40th Chief Justice of India (CJI) on Friday. He was administered the oath by President Pranab Mukherkee at the Rashtrapati Bhawan. The sixty-four year old is the first CJI from Tamil Nadu. Coming from a family of farmers, Justice Sathasivam’s rise to the top judicial post has been inspiring.
He was the first in his village, Kadappanallur village in Tamil Nadu’s Erode district, to acquire a university degree in 1970 and also the first law graduate from there. After completing his legal studies in 1973, Justice Sathasivam started working with senior advocate K Doraisami.
Soon he was appointed as state government counsel in Madras high court and got elevated to the bar in January1996 when he was 47 years. In August 2007 Justice Sathasivam became a Supreme Court judge.
Known for his punctuality, the new CJI has never taken leave from work. He is popular among lawyers, litigants and judges for his quiet demeanor, polite manners and firmness. Above all he is appreciated for his fairness.
Seniority of lawyers has never been a consideration for him while deciding or hearing cases. He gives a serious hearing to even a trainee appearing before him.
His popularity amongst lawyers could be gauged from the fact that over 300 lawyers from Chennai had flown to Delhi to attend the Supreme Court on his first day as the CJI.
In a span of six years Justice Sathasivam has delivered several important judgments including the recent 1993 Bombay bomb blast cases.
He even upheld the conviction of Manu Sharma in the Jessica Lall murder case and also quashed the CBI corruption case against Mayawati. On a review petition he has once again re-opened the case for court’s consideration.
Justice Sathasivam was a member of three-judge bench that decided the dispute between the Ambani brothers on gas pricing. He was also part of constitution bench that dismissed PA Sangma’s plea challenging election of Pranab Mukherjee.
Justice Sathasivam is second of his parents’ five children. His 85-year-old mother resides in the village alongwith two sons.
None of the CJI’s sons are lawyers. While one is an engineer, the other is running a business. Both of them reside in Coimbatore.