Collegium recommends elevation of Bombay HC CJ to SC

Published on Sep 27, 2022 09:19 PM IST

CJ Datta, who had been a permanent judge of the Calcutta high court since June 2006, was elevated as the chief justice of the Bombay high court on April 28, 2020

During his initial days as the chief justice at Bombay, Datta ensured proper implementation of the online hearing system of cases during Covid lockdown and restricted hearings to urgent cases only (Hindustan Times)
During his initial days as the chief justice at Bombay, Datta ensured proper implementation of the online hearing system of cases during Covid lockdown and restricted hearings to urgent cases only (Hindustan Times)

Mumbai The Supreme Court collegium in its meeting held on September 26 recommended elevation of Bombay high court chief justice Dipankar Datta as a judge of the top court.

CJ Datta, who had been a permanent judge of the Calcutta high court since June 2006, was elevated as the chief justice of the Bombay high court on April 28, 2020.

During his initial days as the chief justice at Bombay, Datta ensured proper implementation of the online hearing system of cases during Covid lockdown and restricted hearings to urgent cases only. He also changed the court timing. Earlier, the court proceedings started at 11am, which the CJ had preponed to 10:30 am.

Some of his major decisions at the Bombay high court include adequate facilities and provisions for treatment of Covid patients and relief for people affected by the lockdown. He ensured that the state and other authorities took immediate steps for provision of facilities in hospitals to Covid patients.

His direction to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to inquire into corruption allegations made by former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh against former Maharashtra home minister and NCP leader Anil Deshmukh will rank as one of the most important matters heard by Datta as the CJ at Bombay high court.

The April 5, 2021-order led to Deshmukh’s resignation, the registration of an FIR by CBI against the 73-year-old NCP leader and his subsequent arrest by the enforcement directorate (ED), which is probing the money laundering case against him.

The CJ also passed orders in the appointment of 12 MLC’s issue in August last year wherein he expressed hope that the governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari would take a decision on the recommendations made by the council of ministers. He also chided politicians for encouraging putting up unauthorised banners and posters. He had also expressed doubts over whether orders of the HC would have an impact on politicians who called for bandhs. CJ Datta had also not minced words in expressing his observations on the clout of Sharad Pawar which they had used in the Lavasa project.

The other prominent cases presided by the CJ include the Mumbai Metro rail car shed at Kanjurmarg, wherein he had stayed the order of the Collector permitting the transfer of the 102-acre land to the MMRDA for constructing the car shed in December 2020. This year, he had also directed the removal of 48 unauthorised structures violating safety norms for incoming and outgoing flights around the international airport. He had also pulled up the authorities for not ensuring implementation of fire safety norms in hospitals.

In February this year, he had also passed judgement in the unauthorised constructions which resulted in the collapse of buildings and directed civic authorities across the Mumbai Metropolitan Region to identify and take action against such structures. CJ Datta also directed employees of Air India to vacate their residence at Kalina after it was informed that the land was required for commercial exploitation by the government.

Other major cases decided by him included providing home vaccination to the elderly and ailing persons and the order in the PUCL PIL wherein guidelines were laid down for safeguarding rights of prisoners and their will being.

In another important decision, Datta in Sushant Singh Rajput case, held that the right of freedom of speech should not violate the right of an individual by resorting to malicious and mala fide reporting. Some senior police officers had filed the PIL and sought a restraint on reporting of the case by the media.

Born in February 1965, Datta obtained his LLB degree from University of Calcutta in 1989 and enrolled himself as an advocate the same year. He practised in the Calcutta high court and the Supreme Court, dealing with constitutional and civil cases. He also served as the junior standing counsel for the West Bengal government between May 2002 and January 2004, and as a counsel for the Union government since 1998.

He was elevated as a judge of Calcutta HC on June 22, 2006. Here in Mumbai, he succeeded departing Bombay HC chief justice Bhushan P Dharmadhikari, who was sworn in on March 20. Justice Dharmadhikari served his last day in office on April 27.

“He came here in difficult times and handled the court both on the administrative and judicial side extremely well. We have had good chief justices, but he is one of the finest and will be an asset to the Supreme Court. One of the unique features of this chief justice is that he handled almost all types of cases from among all of the chief justices who took PILs. He has been strict in PILs which is a good trait in the light of exponential growth in frivolous PILs,” said senior advocate Milind Sathe, former president of Bombay Bar Association

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