DY Chandrachud to be 50th CJI as UU Lalit names him successor

NEW DELHI: From leading a bunch of boys while playing cricket in the backyard of the official bungalow of his father and then CJI YV Chandrachud four decades ago, Justice DY Chandrachud moved a step closer to captain the Indian judiciary as incumbent Chief Justice UU Lalit recommended his name to the government for appointment as the next CJI.

Deviating from the tradition of the CJI going to the most senior Supreme Court judge’s chamber to hand over a copy of the recommendation letter he sends to the Union government, CJI Lalit created a new tradition by handing over the letter recommending Justice Chandrachud’s name in presence of all judges. CJI Lalit retires on November 8.

In a matter of days, the President would designate Justice Chandrachud as the next CJI, which would be the final step prior to his taking oath as the 50th CJI on November 9.

That will make Justices YV Chandrachud and DY Chandrachud the first father-son duo to head Indian judiciary.

While Chandrachud Jr would have a tenure of two years and two days as CJI, the long tenure of his father as the 16th CJI — seven years, four months and 19 days — would in all probability remain a record, given the trend in the last 37 years. He was CJI from February 1978 to July 1985.

Justice DY Chandrachud, with a smile, fondly recalls graduating in economics honours from St Stephen’s College and completing law from Campus Law Centre, DU, and playing cricket in the backyard of the 5, Krishna Menon Marg bungalow, the CJI’s official residence. As captain of the ragtag team that included his friends and clerks and peons of his CJI father, Justice Chandrachud used to challenge teams at matches played at Tughlaq Crescent.

No official vehicle was ever provided to then CJI’s son to travel to college. DTC buses were the sole mode of transport, Justice DY Chandrachud recalls.

To enliven his passion for music and also to earn pocket money to buy movie tickets or a meal at the college canteen, he anchored programmes in AIR. After completing law from DU, he did his LLM and doctorate from Harvard Law School.

Moving to Mumbai, he soon built a lucrative practice both at the Bombay HC and later in Supreme Court. He hung on to his father’s 1966 model personal Ambassador car for the sweet memories till 2010-2011.

He was designated senior advocate in June 1998 and appointed as judge of the Bombay HC in March 2000. He became chief justice of the biggest HC at Allahabad in October 2013 and was appointed as an SC judge on May 13, 2016.

A die-hard protector of civil liberties, Justice Chandrachud overruled in 2017 the ADM Jabalpur judgment of 1976 delivered by a 5-judge bench that included Chandrachud Sr, which upheld suspension of fundamental rights during the Emergency. A year later, his judgment decriminalising adultery under Section 497 of IPC overruled his father’s Sowmithri Vishnu Judgment of May 1985. Several landmark judgments were authored by him as an SC judge, including the right to privacy as a fundamental right. He was also part of 5-judge bench’s unanimous verdict in 2019 that awarded disputed Ayodhya land for construction of Ram Temple and a five acre land at a prominent place in Ayodhya to Muslim side for construction of a mosque.