Outgoing Chief Justice of India NV Ramana sent Law Minister Kiren Rijiju a letter recommending Justice UU Lalit—the senior-most judge after him—as the 49th Chief Justice of India. If the convention holds, then Justice Lalit will assume charge on August 27, a day after the incumbent retires.
In a year marked by changes, Justice Lalit will be the first of the two new CJIs of this year. Justice Lalit's tenure as CJI will be one of the shorter ones with only 74 days in office. In this brief period, Justice Lalit will not only have to deal with the appointment of judges—the SC will be four judges short of the sanctioned strength—but also a high number of pending cases.
Justice Lalit, the soft-spoken criminal lawyer who became a judge
Justice Uday Umesh Lalit was born on November 9, 1957 to a former high court judge. Justice Lalit graduated from Mumbai's Government Law College and practiced law at the Bombay High Court from 1983 to 1985 before moving his practice to Delhi in 1986.
Justice Lalit was a criminal lawyer with many high-profile cases to his name. He was designated as a senior advocate by the Supreme Court in April, 2004.
In his career as an advocate, Justice Lalit appeared as an Amicus Curiae in many matters. Justice Lalit had appeared for former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh in a Babri Masjid demolition-related matter. Justice Lalit later recused himself from the Supreme Court's constitution bench which heard the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi title dispute case.
In 2015, he recused himself from hearing a plea seeking a fair trial in the 2008 Malegaon Blast case because he had represented one of the accused when he was a lawyer. The same year, he recused himself from hearing former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala plea in the teachers' recruitment scam case for the same reason.
Justice Lalit was appointed as CBI's Special Public Prosecutor for CBI in the 2G trial case before his elevation to the top court.
In August 2014, Justice Lalit became the sixth judge and the second CJI after CJI SM Sikri (the 13th CJI in January 1971) to be directly elevated from the bar.