A day after Justice NV Ramana retired, Justice Uday Umesh Lalit was sworn in as 49th Chief Justice of India on Saturday. President Droupadi Murmu administered the oath of office to Justice Lalit at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Saturday morning.
Justice Ramana had recommended Justice Lalit as his successor in keeping with convention and norms of seniority. The President subsequently confirmed Justice Lalit’s appointment as the new CJI.
Justice Lalit will have a brief tenure of 74 days as the head of India’s judiciary and would demit office on November 8.
At Justice Ramana’s farewell function, Justice Lalit said that during his tenure of nearly three months he will focus on three key areas and one of his top priorities would be to make the listing of cases simple, clear and as transparent as possible.
Justice Lalit has also promised to ensure a clear-cut regime where any urgent matters can freely be mentioned before the respective benches of the top court.
He assured that there will be at least one Constitution Bench functioning throughout the year in the Supreme Court.
Justice Lalit said, “I have always believed that the role of the Supreme Court is to lay down law with clarity, consistency, and the best possible way to do it is to have larger benches as early as possible, wherever the matters are referred to such benches so that the issues get clarified immediately, the matter has consistency and the people are well aware of what exactly are the contours of the peculiar positions in law.”
The outgoing CJI Ramana on his last working day apologised for not being able to list all the pending matters and said the court has been firefighting pendency, which rose alarmingly during the pandemic months.
Justice Lalit was a renowned senior advocate before he became the judge of the apex court. He was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court on August 13, 2014.
Justice Lalit will be the second CJI who was directly elevated to the Supreme Court bench from the Bar. Justice SM 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.
Justice Lalit was born on November 9, 1957, in Maharashtra’s Solapur. His father, UR Lalit, was an additional judge at the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court and a senior advocate at the Supreme Court.
Justice Lalit enrolled as an advocate in June 1983. He specialised in criminal law and practised at the Bombay High Court from 1983 to 1985. He shifted his practice to Delhi in January 1986, and in April 2004, he was designated as a senior advocate by the top court.
He was later appointed a special public prosecutor for the CBI to conduct the trial in the 2G spectrum allocation case.
After Justice Lalit’s retirement on November 8, Justice DY Chandrachud is expected to be appointed as the 50th Chief Justice of India.