Justice Uday Umesh Lalit was on Wednesday appointed as the 49th Chief Justice of India with President Droupadi Murmu signing his warrant of appointment. He will assume charge on August 27 after incumbent NV Ramana demits office the day before. He will have a brief tenure as the head of India's judiciary and would demit office on November 8 after holding the charge as the CJI for nearly three months.
While Supreme Court judges retire on attaining the age of 65 years, judges of the 25 high courts retire at 62. Justice Lalit will be the second CJI who was directly elevated to the apex court bench from the Bar. Justice S M Sikri, who became the 13th CJI in January 1971, was the first lawyer to be elevated directly to the top court bench in March 1964.
"In exercise of the powers conferred by clause (2) of Article 124 of the Constitution of India, the President is pleased to appoint Shri Justice Uday Umesh Lalit, judge of the Supreme Court, to be the Chief Justice of India with effect from 27 August, 2022," a law ministry notification said.
Justice Lalit has been part of several landmark judgments including the one which held the practice of divorce through instant triple talaq among Muslims illegal and unconstitutional. A renowned senior advocate, he was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court on August 13, 2014.
He shifted his practice to Delhi in January 1986, and in April 2004, he was designated as a senior advocate by the apex court. He was appointed a special public prosecutor for the CBI to conduct trial in the 2G spectrum allocation case. He has since been involved in delivery of several landmark judgements of the apex court.
In the triple talaq verdict, while the then CJI J S Khehar and Justice S Abdul Nazeer were in favour of putting on hold the judgement for six months and asking the government to come out with a law to that effect, justices Kurian Joseph, R F Nariman and Lalit held the practice as violative of the Constitution. Justices Khehar, Joseph and Nariman have since retired.