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Landmark judgments led by various Chief Justices

landmark judgments

Throughout India’s history, Chief Justices have played a pivotal position in shaping the state’s jurisprudence. The legacy of these Chief Justices serves as a testament to their dedication to upholding justice and protecting the rights of all citizens. Today, we will explore some key judgments delivered by different Chief Justices.

1. Chief Justice Harilal J. Kania (1950-1951):

Chief Justice Kania played a crucial role in laying the foundation of the Indian judiciary. His tenure witnessed the historic judgments in the A.K. Gopalan v. State of Madras case, which established the doctrine of the basic structure of the Constitution.

2. Chief Justice M. Patanjali Sastri (1951-1954):

During his tenure, the Shankari Prasad v. Union of India case was significant, affirming the Parliament’s power to amend the Constitution under Article 368, subject to certain limitations.

3. Chief Justice B. R. Rajam (1954-1956):

Chief Justice Rajam’s tenure saw the Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala judgments which upheld the basic structure doctrine and limited the Parliament’s power to amend the Constitution.

4. Chief Justice S. R. Das (1956-1959):

The State of Bombay v. Narasu Appa Mali case during his tenure recognized the need to maintain personal laws for different communities, setting a precedent for religious freedom.

5. Chief Justice B. P. Sinha (1959-1964):

Chief Justice Sinha presided over the Golaknath v. State of Punjab case, which reinforced the doctrine that fundamental rights could not be amended by Parliament.

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6. Chief Justice P. B. Gajendragadkar (1964-1966):

His tenure featured the Rustom Cavasjee Cooper v. Union of India case, which reaffirmed the doctrine of parliamentary supremacy and the validity of constitutional amendments.

7. Chief Justice K. Subba Rao (1966-1967):

The I.C. Golaknath v. State of Punjab judgments during his brief tenure clarified that Parliament could not amend fundamental rights.

8. Chief Justice M. Hidayatullah (1967-1968):

Chief Justice Hidayatullah’s tenure included the Golaknath v. State of Punjab (1967) case, which upheld the position that fundamental rights could not be amended.

9. Chief Justice J. C. Shah (1968-1970):

During his tenure, the Golaknath v. State of Punjab (1969) case was overruled by a larger bench, allowing Parliament to amend fundamental rights.

10. Judge S. M. Sikri (1971-1973):

The Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala (1973) judgments during his tenure were monumental, establishing the doctrine that certain basic features of the Constitution are immune from the amendment.

11. Chief Justice A. N. Ray (1973-1977):

His tenure witnessed the controversial ADM Jabalpur v. ShivKant Shukla case, where the majority held that during a state of emergency, even the right to life and personal liberty could be suspended.

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12. Chief Justice M. H. Beg (1977-1978):

Judge Beg’s tenure saw the Minerva Mills Ltd. v. Union of India judgments, which upheld the basic structure doctrine and struck down certain amendments.

13. Chief Justice Y. V. Chandrachud (1978-1985):

Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India case during his tenure expanded the scope of personal liberty and the right to travel abroad.

14. Chief Justice R. S. Pathak (1986-1989):

Judge Pathak led the Shah Bano v. Union of India case, which addressed the issue of maintenance for divorced Muslim women.

15. Chief Justice E. S. Venkataramiah (1989-1990):

During his brief tenure, the S. R. Bommai v. Union of India case established principles related to the dissolution of state governments under Article 356.

16. Chief Justice Ranganath Misra (1990-1991):

Judge Misra presided over the Mandal Commission case, endorsing reservations for socially and educationally backward classes.

17. Chief Justice M. N. Venkatachaliah (1993-1994):

His tenure included the Vishakha v. State of Rajasthan judgments, which laid down guidelines for preventing sexual harassment in workplaces.

18. Chief Justice J. S. Verma (1997-1998):

The Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan (1997) judgments were a watershed moment for women’s rights in the workplace.

19. Chief Justice A. S. Anand (1998-2001):

Judge Anand’s tenure witnessed the K. R. Lakshmanan v. State of Tamil Nadu judgments, clarifying the scope of the criminalization of political speeches.

20. Chief Justice S. P. Bharucha (2001-2002):

During his brief tenure, the Vineet Narain v. Union of India case paved the way for legal measures against corruption in high places.

21. Chief Justice V. N. Khare (2002-2004):

Chief Justice Khare led the T. N. Thirumulpad v. UOI case, which emphasised the right to live in a clean environment.

22. Chief Justice R. C. Lahoti (2004-2005):

His tenure included the Vineet Narain v. Union of India (2004) judgments, directing the Central Bureau of Investigation’s autonomy.

23. Chief Justice Y. K. Sabharwal (2005-2007):

The Bandhua Mukti Morcha v. Union of India case during his tenure addressed bonded labour and labour welfare.

24. Chief Justice K. G. Balakrishnan (2007-2010):

Chief Justice Balakrishnan’s tenure featured the Aruna Shanbaug v. Union of India case, which debated the right to die with dignity.

25. Chief Justice S. H. Kapadia (2010-2012):

His tenure saw the 2G Spectrum case, addressing corruption in the allocation of telecom licences.

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26. Chief Justice Altamas Kabir (2012-2013):

Chief Justice Kabir led the National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India case, recognizing the rights of transgender individuals.

27. Chief Justice P. Sathasivam (2013-2014):

His tenure included the Lalita Kumari v. Government of U.P. judgments, emphasising the need for compulsory registration of FIRs.

28. Chief Justice R. M. Lodha (2014-2014):

Chief Justice Lodha’s tenure saw the BCCI v. Cricket Association of Bihar case, leading

to major reforms in Indian cricket.


The role of Chief Justices in delivering landmark judgments cannot be underestimated, as they have a profound and lasting impact on the nation’s legal framework and the protection of fundamental rights. These judgments are a testimony to the information and commitment of the leader justices who have held this esteemed position in the course of India’s criminal history. In India, Chief Justices have often left a profound impact on the legal framework through their landmark judgments. Their judgments retain manuals and inspire the criminal community and society at large, reaffirming the significance of an independent and strong judiciary in a democratic country.

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