Centre clears appointment of Bombay High Court Chief Justice Dipankar Datta as Supreme Court judge

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The Centre has issued a notification for the elevation of Bombay High Court Chief Justice Dipankar Datta as a Supreme Court judge.

As per powers conferred under Clause 2 of Article 124 of the Constitution, President Droupadi Murmu has appointed Justice Datta as Judge of Supreme Court.

“In exercise of the power conferred under the Constitution of India, Justice Dipankar Datta has been appointed as Judge of the Supreme Court of India. I extend my best wishes to him,” Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju tweeted on Sunday afternoon.

The Supreme Court collegium, headed by the then Chief Justice of India UU Lalit, had recommended in a meeting on September 26 that Justice Datta, 57, be appointed as a judge at the apex court. It took nearly two-and-a-half months for the Centre to clear his name. The last time Bombay High Court Chief Justice to be elevated as a Supreme Court judge was Anil Dave, in April 2010.

Justice Datta, son of the late Justice Salil Kumar Datta, a former judge of the Calcutta High Court, was born on February 9, 1965. He obtained his LLB degree from the University of Calcutta in 1989, enrolled as an advocate the same year and started practising in the Supreme Court and high courts, dealing with constitutional and civil cases.

He served as the junior standing counsel for West Bengal between May 2002 and January 2004, and a counsel for the Union government since 1998. He was appointed as a permanent judge of the Calcutta High Court on June 22, 2006.

Justice Datta took over as the Chief Justice of Bombay High Court on April 28, 2020, succeeding Justice Bhushan P Dharmadhikari. Apart from ensuring the functioning of the court through virtual and hybrid modes, Justice Datta, in his two and half years tenure at the helm of the Bombay High Court, also passed several key directions to the authorities and judgments.

Some of these are as providing medical assistance to the people; redressing grievances of migrant workers during the Covid-imposed lockdown; orders pertaining to overcrowding inside jails; Kanjurmarg Metro car shed land, “media trial” in Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death case; Central Bureau of Investigation’s preliminary enquiry against former state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh over corruption allegations; door-to-door vaccination drive for elderly and differently-abled people; the issue of unauthorised and illegal structures, potholes in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR); and demolition of unauthorised structures, flouting building norms, around the Mumbai airport.

Moreover, in August, last year, Justice Datta held it “desirable” for Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to take a decision at the earliest regarding the recommendation by the state council of ministers under then CM Uddhav Thackeray on the nominations of 12 members to the Legislative Council, pending for eight months at that point and said the seats “cannot be kept vacant indefinitely”. Those 12 names were recently scrapped by the current dispensation under Eknath Shinde.

On February 26 this year, a bench led by Chief Justice Datta refused to interfere in a PIL against special permission granted in 2002 to Lake City Corporation for purchasing lands for a private hill station Lavasa in Pune district and said that the “judicial hands-off” approach is best suited in the case due to “gross delay” in the filing of PIL. The court, though, observed “personal interest” and “exertion of influence and clout” by NCP chief Sharad Pawar and his daughter Supriya Sule in the impugned project and that NCP leader Ajit Pawar, who was the irrigation minister and ex-officio chairman of Maharashtra Krishna Valley Development Corporation (MKVDC) “failed to disclose the direct or indirect interest and was found to be remiss in his duty only to that extent.”

The top court currently has a working strength of 27 judges as against a sanctioned strength of 34 judges and once Justice Datta is sworn in, it will have 28 judges. Justice Datta’s name was the only one cleared by the Collegium under CJI Lalit for elevation to the apex Court.



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