Bombay HC Chief Justice Dipankar Datta elevated to Supreme Court
CJ Datta, who was a senior judge at the Calcutta high court, was elevated to the post of Chief Justice of the Bombay high court in April 2020 when the Covid lockdown was at its peak and stringent travel restrictions were in place
Mumbai: After a wait of more than two and a half months, Dipankar Datta, Chief Justice of the Bombay high court, will take up the post of judge in the Supreme Court. Datta had been recommended for elevation by the SC collegium on September 26, but the warrant of his elevation was issued by the Centre only on Sunday.
During his tenure of almost two and a half years, CJ Datta presided over numerous cases, the most prominent among them being the PIL against former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh. Other important cases he decided were the restraint on the media trial in the Sushant Singh Rajput case, the directions to the state government to reduce crowding in jails during Covid, and the setting aside of the suburban district collector’s order to transfer a 102-acre plot of land at Kanjurmarg to the state government for the metro car shed.
CJ Datta, who was a senior judge at the Calcutta high court, was elevated to the post of Chief Justice of the Bombay high court in April 2020 when the Covid lockdown was at its peak and stringent travel restrictions were in place. However, this did not deter him from reaching Mumbai, and he undertook a 2,200-km drive to be sworn in after the retirement of outgoing Chief Justice B P Dharmadhikari.
One of Justice Datta’s first initiatives was to introduce online hearing of important and extremely urgent cases during the lockdown. Later, when restrictions were relaxed, he introduced the hybrid mode wherein litigants were allowed to appear in hearings through both offline and online modes. The working hours of the HC were also changed from 11 am to 5 pm to 10.30 am to 4.30 pm.
The other notable cases that Justice Datta took up during the Covid period was the issue of migrant workers stuck in Mumbai and the provision of Covid facilities and medicines to citizens, especially the disabled and elderly.
In December 2020, the bench of CJ Datta passed orders cancelling the allotment of the 102-acre plot of land at Kanjurmarg by the collector, which was a big jolt for the then Shiv Sena-led MVA government.
After Covid restrictions were relaxed, in January 2021, CJ Datta passed an order restraining the media from conducting a trial in the Sushant Singh Rajput case. Later in April 2021, a bench headed by him directed the CBI to conduct a preliminary inquiry into the allegations against Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh by former police commissioner Param Bir Singh, which resulted in the arrest of the former.
The outgoing Chief Justice also initiated a suo motu public interest litigation following the Bhiwandi building collapse in September 2020 which left 41 dead, and issued directions to all municipal corporations in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region to take action against illegal and unauthorised structures in February this year.
In July this year, the bench of the CJ also issued instructions to the collector to remove 48 structures which violated height norms and were posing a threat to incoming and outgoing flights at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport.
Born on February 9, 1965, CJ Dipankar Datta is the son of the late Justice Salil Kumar Datta, a former judge of the Calcutta high court. He obtained his LLB degree from the University of Calcutta in 1989 and enrolled as an advocate the same year. He practised in the Supreme Court and in high courts and took up civil and constitutional cases.
He served as a counsel for the Union government from 1998 and a junior standing counsel for West Bengal between May 2002 and January 2004. He was elevated as a permanent judge of the Calcutta high court on June 22, 2006.