NV Ramana, 48th Chief Justice of India (CJI), will retire on August 21 after taking charge of the country’s topmost judicial officer’s post on April 24, 2021. A day before his retirement, the NV Ramana-led Supreme Court bench heard a litany of crucial cases, including the BJP-led Centre’s role in the Pegasus software allegedly used for surveillance, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s security breach in Punjab, Gujarat government’s remission grant to 11 convicts in Bilkis Bano rape case and the review petition on the top court’s earlier PMLA judgement among others. As his last act, CJI Ramana’s judgement on freebies case will be livestreamed today in a historic first. The judgement and hearings of the CJI’s court, or the ceremonial bench will be live-streamed today for the first time. The outgoing CJI will be sharing the bench with CJI-designate UU Lalit today.
Prior to the CJI role, Ramana has served eight years as a Supreme Court judge. He was also the chief justice of the Delhi High Court and the Andhra Pradesh High Court.
Outside the court, Ramana is also known for standing up for issues close to his heart, be it the judicial backlog in the country or the safety and security of retired judges. While hearing a case on freebies, Ramana said, “The person who retires or is going to retire has no value in this country.”
Criticising the media for running “kangaroo courts”, CJI Ramana had said, “An area of grave concern for the judiciary is the increasing attacks on judges. Physical attacks on judicial officers are on the rise. Then, there are attacks on the judiciary in the media, particularly social media.”
Ramana has also come under criticism for setting up only one constitution bench in his 16-month tenure as the CJI, when at least 53 cases of national importance required a constitution bench hearing, be it the Article 370 abrogation in Jammu and Kashmir or the petitions challenging the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019. In his last week at the office, Ramana-led bench referred a batch of petitions filed by both Eknath Shinde and Uddhav Thackeray against one another concerning the formation of the current Maharashtra government to a constitution bench.