Meet Sharad Arvind Bobde, the next Chief Justice of India

Krishnadas Rajagopal New Delhi | Updated on October 29, 2019

Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde   -  The Hindu

The apex court judge who heard several key cases is now on the Ayodhya Bench

Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde is what lawyers call a “practical judge”. A judge who crafts a well-thought solution in favour of the litigant in a knotty case which may, otherwise, have taken years to resolve.

Bobde may not share a passion for eleganta juris, for symmetry of form and substance. Nor does he show a natural inclination to be an enforcer. In his hearings, one witnesses Bobde listen carefully to both sides before suggesting a remedy suitable to all.

Eminent American jurist Benjamin N Cardozo, in a compilation of lectures titled ‘The Nature of Judicial Process’, quotes WG Miller to describe what a boon a practical judge is to the litigant. “The client cares little for a ‘beautiful case’! He wishes it settled somehow on the most favourable terms he can obtain”.

Justice Bobde, appointed the 47th Chief Justice of India by the President, has shown his propensity for practical and amicable resolutions twice recently.

It was Bobde on the Constitution Bench who first pushed for mediation of the Ayodhya dispute in order to “heal hearts and minds”. He said the dispute has seen many bitter decades. He believed that talks, rather than adversarial judicial proceedings, may cool tempers across the religious divide.

Again, in the long-drawn BCCI dispute, Bobde took the practical path. Rather than countless court hearings in a case which seemed to grow new branches of dispute every time, Bobde appointed an amicus curiae to resolve the problems of the stakeholders and ordered the holding of elections in the BCCI. This he accomplished in a handful of hearings. Bobde’s cause-list on a normal working day is not chock-a-block with cases. He hears a reasonable number in a day. To these, he devotes himself and usually comes up with a solution grounded in logic and law. His normal workday is a page lifted from Marguerite Yourcenar’s ‘Memoirs of Hadrian’, where the emperor selects a few cases, from the many he hears a day, to deliver complete justice.

Recently, Bobde was heard saying in his courtroom that it was lately the judges understood the benefits of hearing a case continuously, without a break, as they had heard the Ayodhya dispute. This may be an indication that, in future, important cases may be heard on a day-to-day basis in the apex court.

Bobde had also led the in-house committee which enquired into the sexual harassment allegations against Chief Justice Gogoi by a former Supreme Court employee, the first in the history of the Supreme Court. The committee had courted controversy after the employee withdrew from the proceedings, complaining that neither was she allowed a lawyer nor was an amicus curiae appointed. The committee later gave the CJI a clean chit.

The judge was part of the Bench which insisted that a citizen cannot be deprived of essential services and welfare subsidies of the State for lack of Aadhaar card. Bobde was also a member of the Bench which suspended the sale of firecrackers in the National Capital Region in 2016 to curb pollution.

Hailing from a family of lawyers from Maharashtra, the 63-year-old Bobde was born in April 24, 1956 and is scheduled to retire on April 23, 2021.

PTI adds: Bobde has been chosen following the rule of seniority and his name was recommended by Chief Justice Gogoi in a letter to the Centre.

Born on April 24, 1956 at Nagpur in Maharashtra, Bobde completed Bachelor of Arts and LLB degrees from Nagpur University. He was enrolled as an advocate of the Bar Council of Maharashtra in 1978.

Bobde practised law at the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court with appearances at Bombay before the Principal Seat and before the Supreme Court for over 21 years. He was designated as senior advocate in 1998.

Bobde was elevated to Bombay High Court on March 29, 2000, as Additional Judge and sworn in as Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court on October 16, 2012. He was elevated as a judge of the Supreme Court on April 12, 2013.

The Constitution Bench, which also includes Gogoi, is expected to deliver the keenly-awaited Ayodhya verdict by November 15.


Published on October 29, 2019

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