Why he matters: As the 50th and presently serving Chief Justice of India, Dr. Dhananjaya Yashwant Chandrachud sits in a prominent seat of power. His forward-thinking stance and steadfast sense of ethics make him one of the most noteworthy judges to have served the country, practising what he preaches.
There are some who command respect on the basis of their personalities, and others who do so for their contribution to the world. In the case of Dr. Dhananjaya Yashwant Chandrachud, the 50th Chief Justice of India, it’s both.
Some would say his calling in life was preordained, as he followed in the footsteps of his father, YV Chandrachud, who bears the distinction of being the longest serving Chief Justice of India. Yet, his personal career trajectory displays a rare passion for what he does, enabling him to carve a path all his own.
An alumnus of St. Stephen’s College and Harvard Law School, he was appointed a Senior Advocate at the young age of 38. Two years later, he became a judge of the Bombay High Court and later, Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court. Having pronounced decisions on crucial matters, such as the right to privacy, free speech, gender equality and, most recently, the decriminalisation of homosexuality, he has made a name for himself as a champion for women’s rights and destitute members of society seeking justice.
“It’s difficult to right the wrongs of history, but we can certainly set the course for the future. That we can do by saying, as I propose to say in this case, that lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders have a constitutional right to equal citizenship in all its manifestations,” the Chief Justice had famously stated in the historic 181- page verdict on decriminalising homosexuality in India, adding that the natural instinct to love was “caged” by constraining the manifestation of sexuality because of a colonial law.
The CJI practises what he preaches in his personal life, as well. The father of two sons from his first marriage, he fosters two differently-abled daughters with his second wife, Kalpana Das. Earlier this year, he brought them to the courtroom for a visit to explain the nature of his job, an act for which he was applauded by one and all.
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