On November 20, 2017, I reached Allahabad, after being transferred there from the Rajasthan High Court. That evening, I had a meeting with a young judge, who introduced me to the Allahabad High Court, its traditions and the individuals who contributed to its glorious history. The meeting lasted for more than 90 minutes, and the judge spent not less than 20 minutes talking about the imprint left on the court by Justice Dhananjaya Y. Chandrachud, who had been chief justice of the Allahabad High Court prior to his elevation to the Supreme Court in May 2016.
It was certainly curious as well as interesting to hear about the judicial and administrative work of a judge who had left the court about one and a half years earlier. While working as puisne judge, I came across frequent references to the working style of Justice Chandrachud, not only by the judges, but also by members of the bar. In this way, even before meeting him, I had come to know about him quite well, both as a judicial administrator and as an individual.
The judicial capacity and capability of a judge reflects in the annals of justice through his or her judgments. Justice Chandrachud’s judgments have had a great impact in terms of how cases in other courts have been decided. The much discussed verdict of the Allahabad High Court in the case pertaining to the ‘name and shame’ posters, which was passed by a division bench of the court, found its conclusion on the judgment authored by Justice Chandrachud in the Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) and Anr. vs Union of India and Ors. In a landmark order, he declared that the right to privacy is a fundamental right under the Constitution and “the constitutional core of human dignity”.
On November 14, 2018, I took over as chief justice of the Allahabad High Court and in that capacity I had the occasion to look into several orders, directions, initiatives and actions taken by Justice Chandrachud in the court on the administrative side. I always found that there was a creative vision to deal with chronic problems of the system. He employed modern thoughts and technical solutions. He introduced digitisation of records on a large scale and also introduced the use of computer systems at every level of the administration. The credit for introducing the concept of e-courts in Allahabad and Lucknow goes to Justice Chandrachud.
In Allahabad, he had made a mark with his humility but had also been firm when required. It was he who put a check on the strikes and the tendency to boycott courts by lawyers in Uttar Pradesh by constituting a seven-judge bench that dealt with different issues of the problem. On the one hand, this bench suggested various steps to redress grievances of lawyers and on the other, it also initiated stern action against persons causing grievous harm to the pious profession of advocacy.
Justice Chandrachud also passed several effective orders in various PILs, including the case relating to cleaning the Ganga. The orders passed in various PILs reflect his extraordinary judicio-administrative capabilities. He knows how to draw an order and also get it implemented.
It is not surprising at all that there are great expectations from Justice Chandrachud’s tenure as CJI.
The author was chief justice of the Allahabad High Court.