Chief Justice of India Sharad A Bobde has been sworn-in by President Ram Nath Kovind at a simple ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Monday morning. Chief Justice Bobde, the eighth chief justice from Maharashtra, will have a tenure of a little over 18 months.
Before his elevation to the top judicial post in the country, Chief Justice Bobde was part of the benches of the Supreme Court that delivered the historic verdict in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit that ruled in favour of the construction of a Ram temple at Ayodhya and upheld the right to privacy as a fundamental right.
As Chief Justice, he will have to set up the seven-judge bench that a bench-led by Supreme Court has decided should be set up to hear the review of its 2018 verdict on ending the gender-based restrictions on the entry of women to Sabarimala. This will be the third Supreme Court bench to hear the case.
Chief Justice Bobde was not part of the bench of five judges on Sabarimala, which also asked that seven judges re-examine entry to the hilltop shrine as well as those related to the entry of women into mosques, and the denial of access to fire temples for Parsi women who marry outside the community.
Justice Bobde was elevated to the Supreme Court in April 2012 after serving as chief justice of the Madhya Pradesh high court. Justice Bobde, who is from Maharashtra, studied law at Nagpur University.
The top court judge, whose grandfather and father were both lawyers, began practising law in 1978 before the Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court. Born in 1956, Justice Bobde was designated as a senior advocate in 1998 and elevated to the high court as an additional judge in March 2000.
As a SC judge, Justice Bobde has been part of benches that have delivered landmark verdicts. One of them is the nine-judge bench that backed privacy as a fundamental right and held that the “right to privacy is inextricably bound up with all exercises of human liberty” in 2017.
He was also a member of the bench that ruled that no Indian citizen could be deprived of basic services and government subsidies because he or she didn’t have an Aadhaar card.
Justice Bobde has played a key role at the top court. In May 2019, he headed the three-judge committee that heard sexual harassment allegations against CJI Gogoi by a staff member from the CJI’s office in April 2019. The committee found “no substance in the allegations”. The judge was also said to have brokered peace between previous Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and the four senior judges who held a press conference against the court’s functioning under him in January 2018.