Awaited CJI: DY Chandrachud A Rebel Or A Revolution

When DY Chandrachud, Next Chief Justice, Overturned 2 of His Father’s Judgments

Justice DY Chandrachud is set to be the first Chief Justice of India whose father – YV Chandrachud – has also been one. He will take over from Justice UU Lalit, who retires on November 8.

The First Judement ever overturned by Justice DY Chandrachud of Justice YV Chandrachud was about the Emergency of 1975.

While confirming that the Right to Privacy is a fundamental right In 2017, Justice Chandrachud junior, as part of a nine-judge bench, set aside a controversial order that supported the Emergency of 1975.

His father Justice Chandrachud senior upheld the presidential order to impose the Emergency, a period during which the late Smt. Indira Gandhi-led Congress government severely restricted democratic rights, jailed several opposition leaders, and clamped down on the media.

Justice Chandrachud senior was among the four judges in a five-judge bench who ruled in 1976 that fundamental rights can be suspended during Emergency and people cannot approach the courts for the protection of their rights.

The lone bewailing judge was Justice Hans Raj Khanna, who had observed: “What is at stake is the rule of law,the question is whether the law speaking through the authority of the Court shall be absolutely silenced and rendered mute?”

Justice Chandrachud junior, 41 years later, called the order “seriously flawed” and praised Justice Khanna. “The view taken by Justice Khanna must be accepted, and accepted in reverence for the strength of its thoughts and the courage of its convictions.

The Second Judgement on which Justice DY Chandrachud Differed From Justice YV Chandrachud was “Adultery”.

Justice DY Chandrachud in 2018 was part of the bench that unanimously struck down the law that considers adultery as an offence committed by one man against another. With that order, adultery is no longer a crime, only grounds for divorce.

While back in the year 1985, Justice YV Chandrachud had held the adultery law as constitutionally valid. The law – Section 497 – said: “Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, is guilty of the offence of adultery.”

Justice Chandrachud senior wrote,”It is commonly accepted that it is the man who is the seducer and not the woman.

This position may have undergone some change over the years but it is for the legislature to consider whether Section 497 should be amended appropriately so as to take note of the transformation which society has undergone.”

Decades later, his son Justice DY Chandrachud observed that judgments must be “relevant” to the times.

According to him, Section 497 “perpetrates the subordinate nature of woman in a marriage”.