Justice Nuthalapati Venkata Ramana on Saturday took over as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India. He is now the 48th Chief Justice of India (CJI), having succeeded the post after Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde. President Ram Nath Kovind administered the oath of office to Justice Ramana in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and many other dignitaries at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
Justice Ramana, a first-generation lawyer passionate about Carnatic music, will have a tenure of around one year and four months and will retire on August 26, 2022. His appointment comes comes against the backdrop of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and as such, was a topic of discussion ahead of his ascension.
Speaking at a farewell function organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association, Justice Ramana reportedly took an optimistic outlook, contending that one could defeat the pandemic with discipline. "We are going through trying times. Virus does not differentiate. Some strong measures may be needed in these difficult times. We have to wear a mask, wash hands and do not step out unless there is urgency," he was quoted as saying.
Justice Ramana has presided over several high-profile cases in the top court. In March last year, Justice Ramana headed five-judge Constitution bench which declined to refer to a larger seven-judge bench a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the Centre's decision to revoke provisions of Article 370, which gave special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
In October 2020, a huge controversy had erupted as the Andhra Pradesh chief minister had written to the then Chief Justice alleging state's High Court was being used to "destabilize and topple his democratically elected government". The letter alleged that Justice Ramana was trying to control the High Court and also trying to influence cases, which impact the state government. However, an in-house inquiry did not find any merit in these allegations.
(With inputs from agencies)