From farmer’s family to CJI: Justice NV Ramana’s life and career

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Justice NV Ramana was on Tuesday appointed as the 48th Chief Justice of India (CJI) by President Ram Nath Kovind. Outgoing CJI Sharad Arvind Bobde, who is retiring on April 23, recommended Justice Ramana’s name as his preferred successor, which the President duly accepted. On April 24, the next CJI will be sworn into office and he will have a term till August 26, 2022.

Justice Nuthalapati Venkata Ramana’s nearly four-decade-long career in law has seen him practising in at least two high courts, the Supreme Court, a number of administrative tribunals, and panel counsel of various government organisations, specialising in constitutional, criminal, service and inter-state river laws. He also served as the acting chief justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court and the chief justice of Delhi High Court, before being elevated as a judge of the Supreme Court of India.

Born in agricultural family, took up advocacy in ’83

NV Ramana was born in an agricultural family on August 27, 1957, at the Ponnavaram village in Andhra Pradesh’s Krishna district. Before becoming a full-fledged lawyer Ramana worked as a journalist for a leading Telugu newspaper for a brief time. He enrolled as an advocate in 1983 and practised in the high court of Andhra Pradesh, Central and Andhra Pradesh Administrative Tribunals and the Supreme Court of India in civil, criminal, constitutional, labour, service and election-related matters.

Later, Justice Ramana worked as the additional standing counsel for the central government, the standing counsel for the Indian Railways in the Central Administrative Tribunal at Hyderabad, and the additional advocate general of Andhra Pradesh. In the summer of 2000, he was appointed as a permanent judge of Andhra Pradesh High Court, where he held his post before serving as the acting chief justice for two months in 2013. He was transferred to Delhi as its chief justice before he elevated to the Supreme Court on September 2, later that year.

Supreme Court career

Justice NV Ramana has been a judge in the Supreme Court since February 17, 2014. He has also served as the executive chairman of the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) since November 27, 2019. On April 6, 2021 (Tuesday), the warrant of appointment as CJI was handed over to Justice Ramana by the secretary of the department of justice. As a Chief Justice of India, he would have a tenure of sixteen months and his term will come to an end on August 26, 2022.

Lifting Jammu and Kashmir internet ban

As a Supreme Court judge, Justice Ramana rendered many major judgments, chief of which was bringing an end to a year-long internet ban in Jammu and Kashmir in 2020 after the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution in August 2019. Noting that the indefinite internet ban in Jammu and Kashmir is not only a violation of the telecom rules but also of the freedom of speech and expression granted by the Constitution, Justice Ramana had lifted the restriction on internet access in the valley, as per an ANI report.

Bringing CJI’s office under RTI’s ambit

In a major breakthrough for transparency, Justice Ramana had, in another significant judgment, brought the office of the Chief Justice of India under the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

Conducting floor test in Maharashtra

In addition to these landmark judgments, Justice NV Ramana also ruled in favour of conducting a floor test in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, paving the way for an end to the practice of ‘horse trading’ during the 2019 Maharashtra political crisis, when the Shiv Sena, the BJP, and the National Congress Party and others were trying to form the state government.

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