|Monday, January 15, 2007
New CJIMr Justice K G Balakrishnan takes oath
New Delhi, January 14
In a momentous occasion in the history of independent India, Mr Justice K G Balakrishnan today became the first Dalit to occupy the highest constitutional post in the judiciary as he was sworn in as the new Chief Justice of India by President A P J Abdul Kalam.
Dr Kalam administered the oath of office and secrecy to Mr Justice Balakrishnan as the 37th CJI at an impressive ceremony in the Durbar Hall of Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Justice Balakrishnan (61) succeeded Mr Justice Y K Sabharwal and will have relatively a longer tenure of three years and four months till May 12, 2010 unlike his four predecessors, which gives enough time to tide over various problems faced by judiciary.
The swearing-in ceremony was attended by Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, Justice Sabharwal, several Union Ministers, Supreme Court and Delhi High Court judges, some of the former CJIs, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and law officers of the Government, senior advocates and members of Supreme Court Bar Association.
The ceremony was attended by several of Mr Justice Balakrishnan’s relatives, including his mother K M Sarada, for whom it was a real proud moment to see a long but successful journey of her son from remote Thalayolaparambu village of Kottayam district in Kerala to the highest seat of judiciary.
She was brought to the Durbar Hall in wheelchair to witness her son taking the oath as head of the Indian judiciary in a glittering function.
Born on May 12, 1945 to poor Dalit court clerk, he got his law degree in 1968 and enrolled himself as lawyer in Ernakulam and started his practice both in civil and criminal cases at the same time he continued with further study in law and got his LLM degree with distinction in 1970 .
He was selected to the Kerala Judicial Service in 1973 and appointed as a Munisif but resigned from the post of Additional Sessions judge some years later to start his practice in Kerala High Court. He was appointed a judge of the High Court 1985 and later served as Chief Justice of Chief Justice of Gujarat and Madras High Courts between July 1998 and June 2000, before his elevation to the Apex Court.
Soft spoken Mr Justice Balakrishnan has said that he never thought of reaching thus far considering the fact that he had come up from the poorest section of the society and as a school going child even the post of a judicial officer in local court used to fascinated him whenever he had an opportunity to visit it with his father. He attributed his reaching to the top position in judiciary as the success of Indian democracy, which provides equal opportunity to all despite its various flaws.
Mr Justice Balakrishnan has listed the easing the burden of nearly three core pending cases with the high courts and lower judiciary, firming up the criminal justice delivery system and implement the Alternate Dispute Redressal mechanism among his top administrative priorities.
Always treading clear of any controversy, he was of the opinion that the verdict given by the Supreme Court in cases with political overtones, should not be seen as a confrontation either with the executive or the legislature if they go against them as it was a duty cast upon the apex court to define the Constitution, which was supreme and has clearly earmarked the spheres of all the three wings of Government.
Justice Sabharwal, who demitted the office of CJI today, described Mr Justice Balakrishnan an intelligent and vastly experience judge and an able administrator, who would carry forward the reforms initiated to improve the criminal justice system during the past two years by the apex court.
© 1998-2001 Live India Internet Services! All rights reserved