Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar was on Wednesday sworn in as the Chief Justice of India (CJI). Khehar was administered the oath of office by President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi. He succeeded Justice Tirath Singh Thakur. Khehar is the 44th CJI and also the first Sikh to hold the apex office. He would have a tenure of little over seven months.
Known in the legal circle as a no-nonsense judge, Justice Khehar has delivered several high-profile judgments since he became a Supreme Court judge. As a lawyer too he handled important assignments including defending Justice V Ramaswami, a Judge of the Supreme Court, who was accused of corruption as the chief justice of Punjab and Haryana high court.
Justice Khehar headed the bench which had set aside the imposition of President’s Rule in Arunachal Pradesh in January 2016.
He was a part of the bench which sent Sahara chief Subrata Roy to jail while hearing the matter relating to the refund of money invested by people in his two companies.
He even led the bench that quashed the controversial law that gave executive a say in the appointment of judges. According to the judgment the Centre and top court’s collegium have to redraft the memorandum of procedure followed to nominate judges. This exercise remained incomplete with both the judiciary and executive refusing to blink. It would be a challenging task for Justice Khehar, who now heads the collegium to iron out the differences.
Justice Khekar, known for his unflinching stand has had many rough brushes within the Judicial establishment itself, even if it meant impeachment of a colleague. In 2010, as the Chief Justice of Uttarakhand High Court, Justice Khehar was appointed a member of the three jurists committee, set up to examine corruption charges against Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court, P D Dinakaran, who was facing impeachment proceedings. Before the proceedings could get over, Justice Dinakaran had resigned from his post.
Later, as Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court, Justice Khehar confronted a sitting HC judge accused of sexual harassment by a lady civil judge, resulting in his resignation as well.
However, Justice Khehar’s single-minded commitment to justice is best exemplified in his lambasting of the government of in the high profile 2G scam case, he famously warned the government for its inadequate auctioning polices, saying that "no part of the natural resource can be dissipated as a matter of largess, charity, donation or endowment, for private exploitation. Each bit of natural resource expended must bring back a reciprocal consideration.”