Justice NV Ramana appointed as CJI
President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday appointed justice NV Ramana as the Chief Justice of India (CJI) with effect from April 24. Justice Ramana, 63, will serve till August 26, 2022.
The presidential notification followed the recommendation made by incumbent CJI SA Bobde to the union law ministry on March 24 regarding appointment of justice Ramana as his successor.
“In exercise of the powers conferred by clause (2) of Article 124 of the Constitution. The President is pleased to appoint Sri Nuthalapati Venkata Ramana, judge of the Supreme Court, to be the Chief Justice of India with effect from April 24, 2021,” the notification issued by the law ministry stated.
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
With this, both the CJI and the central government have followed the seniority norm, as laid down under the memorandum of procedure (MoP) for judicial appointments. As per the MoP, appointment to the office of the Chief Justice of India should be of the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court, considered fit to hold the office.
The speculations around appointment of justice Ramana as the next CJI had ensued in the wake of a formal complaint against him by Andhra Pradesh chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, who accused the senior judge of influencing the state high court and stalling investigations into the Amaravati land scam case in which the judge’s daughters were also being probed. Jagan contended in a letter to the CJI that the Andhra Pradesh high court was being used to “destabilise and topple my democratically elected government”.
On the day justice Bobde recommended justice Ramana as the top judge, the Supreme Court also issued a short statement about the dismissal of Reddy’s complaint.
Over the years, justice Ramana has been a part of several landmark judgments. He headed the bench which in January last year ruled that access to the internet is a fundamental right by extension while pulling the government up for the telecommunications blackout in Jammu & Kashmir after abrogation of Article 370. The bench then ordered the J&K administration to review all orders pertaining to the imposition of curbs on telecom and internet services and put them in the public domain.
Adjudicating a bunch of petitions on the Kashmir restrictions, justice Ramana’s bench also underscored the significance of the freedom of the press. “Responsible governments are required to respect the freedom of the press at all times... journalists are to be accommodated in reporting and there is no justification for allowing a sword of Damocles to hang over the press indefinitely,” his verdict held.
In a more recent ruling, a bench headed by justice Ramana held in February the restriction against grant of bail in a stringent law like The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 “per se does not oust the ability of Constitutional Courts to grant bail on grounds of violation” of a fundamental right like the right to a speedy trial.