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Triple talaq, POSCO: Key rulings of newly appointed Chief Justice of India

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Triple talaq, POSCO: Key rulings of newly appointed Chief Justice of India
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New Delhi: Justice Uday Umesh Lalit was on Wednesday appointed as the 49th Chief Justice of India following the retirement of Justice NV Ramana. He will assume charge on August 27 after incumbent N V Ramana demits office the day before.

Justice Lalit has been part of delivering key judgements, including the verdict on 'triple talaq' which was made illegal, and the verdict granting the management right of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Kerala to the Travancore royal family, ever since he was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court on August 13, 2014.

Justice Lalit will have a brief tenure of less than three months. He will turn 65 on November 8 when he demits office. Justice Lalit, who was a renowned senior advocate

One of the path-breaking verdicts was the August 2017 judgment by a five-judge constitution bench which by a 3-2 majority ruled the practice of divorce through instant 'triple talaq' as "void", "illegal" and "unconstitutional". While then Chief Justice JS Khehar and Justice S Abdul Nazeer were in favour of putting on hold the judgment for six months and asking the government to come out with a law to that effect, Justices Kurian Joseph, R F Nariman and UU Lalit held the practice as violative of the Constitution. Justices Kehar, Joseph and Nariman have since retired.

In another important judgment, a bench headed by Justice Lalit had ruled the erstwhile royal family of Travancore has the management right over the historic Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Kerala, one of the richest shrines, holding that the rule of "heritability must get attached to a right of Shebait" (servitor) of the temple.

The bench had allowed the appeal of the legal heirs of Uthradam Thirunal Marthanda Varma, the younger brother of the last ruler, Sree Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma, setting aside the Kerala High Court's 2011 verdict which directed the state government to set up a trust to take control of the management and assets of the temple.

A bench headed by Justice UU Lalit had ruled that touching sexual parts of a child's body or any act involving physical contact with 'sexual intent' amounts to 'sexual assault' under section 7 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act as the most important ingredient is sexual intent and not skin-to-skin contact.

Quashing the controversial 'skin-to-skin' judgments of the Bombay High Court in two cases under the POCSO Act, the bench had said the high court erred in holding that there was no offence since there was no direct 'skin-to-skin' contact with sexual intent.

The high court had held that no offence of sexual assault under the POCSO Act was made out if there was no direct skin-to-skin contact between an accused and victim.

Notable Judgments

Lalit J and Goel J introduced three procedural safeguards to prevent the 'misuse' of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. In Kashinath Mahajan v State of Maharashtra, they set out the following procedure-

1. Conduct of preliminary enquiry before the registration of the FIR

2. Investigation officer obtaining further approval before carrying out an arrest

3. Provision for grant of anticipatory bail under the Act

Lalit J, Gogoi J and Joseph J, in Ranjana Kumari v State of Uttarakhand, ruled that a migrant cannot be recognised as a Scheduled Caste person in the migrant state, merely because that state recognises the specific caste as a Scheduled Caste.

Lalit J was on the Constitution Bench that heard the controversial 2017 Triple Talaq case. The Shayara Bano Bench negated the validity of Triple Talaq. Justice Lalit held that Triple Talaq violated the fundamental right guaranteed in Article 14.

In Pradyuman Bisht v Union of India, Lalit J and Goel J directed that CCTV cameras (without audio recordings) be installed inside courts, and in important locations in the court complex, in at least two districts in every state. However, they ordered that these recordings will not be subject to the Right to Information Act.

Lalit J was on the 2-judge Bench of the Supreme Court that held that the prescribed 6-month waiting period under Section 13B (2) of the Hindu Marriage Act, for divorce by mutual consent, is not mandatory. His judgement with Goel J in Amardeep Singh v Harveen Kaur settled a contentious issue by holding that the prescribed waiting period can be waived under certain circumstances.

Recusations

"During his tenure, Lalit J recused himself from several high-profile cases. In 2014, he recused himself from hearing Yakub Menon's plea seeking a review of the Supreme Court's order upholding his capital punishment in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case. In 2015, he recused himself from hearing a petition filed seeking a fair trial in the 2008 Malegaon blasts, as he had defended one of the accused earlier. In 2016, he recused himself from a plea hearing seeking a probe into the disappearance of a key prosecution witness in the trial of Asaram Bapu.

Furthermore, he also recused himself from hearing a plea by former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala in the teachers' recruitment scam case. In 2017, he recused himself from hearing the appeals in the Suryanelli rape case since he had appeared for one of the accused persons earlier. In 2018, he recused himself from hearing the petition of an accused in the Malegaon blast seeking a probe into alleged torture and coercion by law enforcement authorities. In 2019, Justice Lalit recused himself from the Constitution Bench responsible for hearing the Ayodhya Title Dispute." ( Courtesy: https://www.scobserver.in/)

Born on November 9, 1957, Justice Lalit enrolled as an advocate in June 1983 and practised in the Bombay High Court till December 1985. He shifted his practice to Delhi in January 1986, and in April 2004, he was designated as a senior advocate by the apex court.

He was appointed a special public prosecutor for the CBI to conduct the trial in the 2G spectrum allocation case. He also represented Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin encounter case, when Shah was the Home Minister of Gujarat.

Justice Lalit is due to retire on November 8, 2022.

Courtesy: PTI, https://www.scobserver.in/

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TAGS:Triple talaq POSCO Justice Uday Umesh Lalit Chief Justice of India Supreme Court 
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