Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia was born on 10-08-1960 in in Pauri Garhwal, Uttarakhand to Shri Keshav Chandra Dhulia, who was also a Judge at Allahabad High Court and Smt Sumitra Dhulia, a Sanskrit Professor. His grandfather was a freedom fighter who sentenced to jail for seven years (severed for three years and later was released) for participating in the Quit India Movement.

Did You Know? Justice Dhulia is a grandson of Pundit Bhairav Dutt Dhulia who was a freedom fighter and editor of Hindi newspaper Karmabhumi newspaper in Garhwal, Uttarakhand.

Justice Dhulia has two brothers – the elder Himanshu Dhulia, a retired naval officer, and the younger Tigmanshu Dhulia is a filmmaker.

Did You Know? Justice Dhulia is the brother of national award-winning film director and actor Tigmanshu Dhulia.[1]

He did his earlier schooling from Dehradun, Allahabad and Lucknow. In his growing up years, he participated in debates, played sports and was a part of number of plays in theatre. He graduated from Allahabad University in 1981 and completed his masters Masters in Modern History in 1983. Justice Dhulia completed his L.L.B. in 1986

As an Advocate

Justice Dhulia is a second-generation legal professional who joined the Bar at Allahabad High Court in 1986 and then shifted his base to High Court of Uttarakhand after formation of the new state in 2000.

Initially, he practiced on the Civil and Constitutional side before the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad and was the legal counsel for IIT, Roorkee, State Industrial Development Corporation of Uttarakhand Ltd. (SIDCUL), Bhagirathi River Valley Authority, amongst others. He was designated as Senior Advocate in June, 2004 at High Court of Uttarakhand.

♦ Did You Know? After the creation of the new  State  of Uttarakhand, Justice  Dhulia  became  its  First  Chief  Standing Counsel and was later appointed as State Additional  Advocate  General.

He was also an honorary professor in the Uttarakhand Academy of Administration (ATI) Nainital.

As a Judge

Justice Dhulia was elevated as a permanent Judge of Uttarakhand High Court on 01-11-2008. He was also appointed as the judge in-charge of education at the Uttarakhand Judicial and Legal Academy.

Did You Know? Over 13 years as a Judge of the Uttarakhand High Court, Justice Dhulia authored 1,119 Judgments and was part of 1,415 Benches.[2]

He was elevated as Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court on 07-01-2021 and took the oath on 10-01-2021.

Did You Know? In the one year and four months he spent as Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court, Justice Dhulia authored 81 judgments and sat on 110 Benches.[3]

Justice Dhulia was elevated as Judge of Supreme Court of India on 09-05-2022.

Notable Judgements

Tihar Jail Crime Syndicate| Supreme Court directs conman Sukash Chandra to reveal names of persons involved in Rs. 200 crores extortion case

In a highly controversial extortion case of about Rs. 200 crores in Delhi’s Tihar jail, the 3-judge Bench of Uday Umesh Lalit, S. Ravindra Bhat, and Sudhanshu Dhulia, JJ., has directed conman Sukash Chandra to reveal names of the persons involved in the alleged crime syndicate. [Sukash Chandra Shekhar v. Union of India, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 894]

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Supreme Court allows Project 39A of NLU Delhi to conduct psychological evaluation of a death row convict to bring out mitigating factors 

Adopting a humanitarian approach, the 3-judge Bench of Uday Umesh Lalit, S. Ravindra Bhat, and Sudhanshu Dhulia, JJ., allowed Project 39- A of the National Law University, Delhi, to have access to the appellant, a death row convict to interview him and conduct a psychological analysis in order to bring out mitigating circumstances.  [Karan v. State of M.P., 2022 SCC OnLine SC 732]

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Person languishes in jail for 2 years despite being granted bail by Supreme Court; Supreme Court criticizes Trial Judge for misinterpreting bail order

In a significant case, the 4-judges Bench comprising of Uday Umesh Lalit, S. Ravindra Bhat, P.S. Narasimha and Sudhanshu Dhulia, JJ., issued directions to all the High Courts of the country to submit reports indicating status of cases where bail has been granted by the Supreme Court i.e. if any of such persons are deprived of the opportunity of being released on bail for some reason or the other.

“… where the custody of a person for 9 years was found to be sufficient to entitle him to be released on bail, is now turned into custody for 11 years. This is nothing but  reincarnation of Hussainara Khatoon [(1980) 1 SCC 81] & Motil Ram[(1978) 4 SCC 47].”

[Gopisetty Harikrishna v. State of A.P., 2022 SCC OnLine SC 654]

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Right to cross-examination cannot be denied as a punishment for failure to deposit interim compensation under Section 143A NI Act

In a case where an offender under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 (NI Act) was denied the right to cross-examine a witness upon failure to deposit the interim compensation under Section 143A of NI Act, the bench of UU Lalit*, S. Ravindra Bhat and Sudhanshu Dhulia, JJ has held that any such order foreclosing the right would not be within the powers conferred upon the court and would, as a matter of fact, go well beyond the permissible exercise of power. [Noor Mohammad v. Khurram Pasha, Crl.A. No.-001123-001123 / 2022, decided 02.08.2022]

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Husband seeking personal information such as salary of wife under Right to Information Act, 2005; Whether acceptable or not?

Dismissing the petition being devoid of merits, Sudhanshu Dhulia J., held that it cannot be any anybody’s case that a Government authority being Government school does not come under the definition of ‘public authority’. The only exception as to the information given under the Act under Section 8 of the RTI Act, is an exemption from disclosure of information. It further observed that the nature of information sought by respondent 8 is not covered under any of the exemption given under Section 8 of the RTI Act. [Jasmeet Kaur v. State of Uttarakhand, 2016 SCC OnLine Utt 2276]

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Mere installation of CCTV cameras in hospitals is not enough; HC directs to connect Hospital cameras to the nearest Police Station

The Division Bench comprising of Sudhanshu Dhulia, CJ, and Manash Ranjan Pathak, J., directed to connect CCTV cameras of Hospitals to the nearest Police Station to put a check on increasing instances of violence against medical practitioners amid Covid-19. [Asif Iqbal v. State of Assam, 2021 SCC OnLine Gau 1529]

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Not in interest of the child; HC stays Sessions Court’s order granting custody of teenage rape victim to relatives of accused 

The Division Bench of Sudhanshu Dhulia, CJ., and  Manash Ranjan Pathak, J., addressed a suo motu PIL concerning the plight of a rape victim, where the victim was a child between 12-15 years of age.

Observing the sensitivity of the matter, the Bench issued strict directions to the State to depute a team of medical officers, including a lady doctor to conduct medical examination on the victim, only for the determination of her age. The Bench emphasised strictly that the examination shall be limited to a bone ossification test and no other test be done as the victim had already been medically examined. [State of Arunachal Pradesh, In Re., PIL (Suo Moto) No. 5 of 2021, decided on 30-06-2021]

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Violence against Doctors; HC directs State to take immediate actions if any medical practitioner is manhandled or abused

The Division Bench of Sudhanshu Dhulia, CJ., and Manash Ranjan Pathak, J., addressed the issue of violence against doctors. The Bench ordered the State to ensure that no medical practitioner is manhandled or abused in any manner. [Suo Motu v. State of Assam, PIL (Suo Moto) No.4 of 2021, Order dated 14-06-2021]

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Court directs ration be provided to struggling sex workers and their families who have been identified; further asks AIDS societies to identify the rest and give relief 

The Division Bench of Sudhanshu Dhulia, CJ. and Manash Ranjan Pathak, J., took up a petition filed in the nature of PIL; concern raised was the present condition of sex workers in Assam who, according to the petitioner in most cases, were on the verge of starvation, considering the strange and difficult times of the present COVID-19 pandemic, which is now in its second wave. [Debajit Gupta v. State of Assam, 2021 SCC OnLine Gau 1169]

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“What kind of test is being done for determination of COVID-19 infection?”; HC directs Assam government to set up Mobile Medical Units in Tea Gardens

The Division Bench of Sudhanshu Dhulia, CJ., and Manash Ranjan Pathak, J., addressed the issues relating to situation under the Covid-19 pandemic in the Tea Gardens of Assam and conditioner of workers in these Tea Gardens.

“We have absolutely no doubt that since the Government already has the resources, these Mobile Medical Units must be put in use for testing and other purposes in the Tea Gardens as well, if not already being done.”

[Anjan Nagg v. Union 0f India, 2021 SCC OnLine Gau 1105]

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Court rejects Plea of bias against the Enquiry officer; Dismisses petition in the matter of departmental proceedings

The Division Bench of Sudhanshu Dhulia and Alok Kumar Verma, JJ., dismissed a writ petition which was filed in the nature of certiorari and mandamus for quashing of certain orders passed by the enquiry officer and with a prayer to change the enquiry officer on grounds of bias. [Kanwar Amninder Singh v. High Court of Uttaranchal, 2020 SCC OnLine Utt 722]

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State contractual employees entitled to claim Child Care Leave

A Full-Bench of Ramesh Ranganathan CJ, Sudhanshu Dhulia and Alok Kumar Verma JJ, held that contractual state employees are also entitled to child care leave, and that its denial would mean the denial of the rights of a child. [Tanuja Tolia v. State of Uttarakhand, 2020 SCC OnLine Utt 337]

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Law provides a remedy at two stages, one before authority concerned and later before appellate authority, both must be fair and in compliance with the norms of natural justice

Sudhanshu Dhulia*, J., contemplated a petition presented before him by the petitioner who was a member of Waqf Board and was subsequently disqualified, aggrieved by which he filed the instant petition.

The Court observed that though the petitioner had a remedy under sub-section (2) of Section 83 of the Waqf Act, 1995 however, in this particular case the existence of an alternative remedy before the Tribunal not operated as a bar inasmuch as the present order had been passed without affording opportunity of hearing to the petitioner. [Haji Rao Sharafat Ali v. State of Uttarakhand, 2019 SCC OnLine Utt 893]

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Voluntarily depriving husband of wife’s company and comfort of matrimonial life amounts to cruelty; Divorce granted 

A Division Bench of Sudhanshu Dhulia and Narayan Singh Dhanik*, JJ., contemplated the special appeals preferred against the judgment of Family Court, where the divorce petition was filed under Section 13 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and was subsequently dismissed but the counterclaim of the wife-respondent for the right of residence was decreed in the favor of the respondent. [Raghuveer Kaintura v. Meera Kaintura, 2019 SCC OnLine Utt 718]

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Compensation increased considering raise in annual notional income of a non-earning member pursuant to 1994 amendment in MV Act

Sudhanshu Dhulia*, J., allowed the appeal filed by the appellants against the award passed by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Rudrapur in MACT Case No. 153 of 2013, whereby compensation of Rs 3,00,000 was awarded to the claimants. [Parwati Devi v. Paramjeet Singh, 2019 SCC OnLine Utt 672]

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Reservations in favor of sportsperson is traceable to Article 16(1); atrocities of exhaustiveness of reservation under Art. 16(4) observed by the Court

A Full Bench of Ramesh Ranganathan* CJ and Sudhanshu Dhulia and Alok Singh, JJ., entertained a writ petition calling into question the exhaustiveness of Article 16(4) of the Constitution of India. [Dhananjay Verma v. State of Uttrakhand, 2019 SCC OnLine Utt 373]

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Biological resources are property of Nation; Divya Pharmacy’s challenge to Fair and Equitable Benefit Sharing dismissed

A Single Judge Bench comprising of Sudhanshu Dhulia, J. stated that Fair and Equitable Benefit Sharing (FEBS) under the Biodiversity Act, 2002, was welfare legislation that was made to cater the needs of the local and indigenous communities. [Divya Pharmacy v. Union of India, 2018 SCC OnLine Utt 1035]

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Judge has to be protected from vexatious charges and malicious litigations; Judge of Court of Record cannot be tried for committing contempt of his own Court

A Division Bench comprising of Sudhanshu Dhulia and Rajiv Sharma, JJ., dismissed a contempt petition against a ‘Judge of a court of record’ purely on the question of law.

“The duty of a Judge, after all, was to dispense justice – without fear or favour, affection or ill will, without passion or prejudice. It is not a part of his duty to please litigants or keep lawyers in good humor. A Judge, ironically, with respect to the office he holds, does not enjoy much liberty and freedom. The principal requirement for all Judges, and particularly for a Judge of Court of Record, is to maintain his independence. A Judge can also be very helpless at times with respect to the position he holds hence for the sake of the independence of judiciary, a Judge has to be protected, from vexatious charges and malicious litigations.”

[Chhitij Kishore Sharma v. Justice Lok Pal Singh, CCP No. 03 of 2018, Order dated 04-09-2018]

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In the matter of appointments to higher echelons, fairness should be the hallmark of selection

A Division Bench comprising of U.C. Dhyani* and  Sudhanshu Dhulia, JJ. dismissed a challenge against the appointment of State Chief Information Commissioner. The main challenge in the petition was that the office of the State Chief Information Commissioner has become the ‘dumping ground’ for retired bureaucrats, who are rewarded for their loyalty to the State Government. [Chandra Shekhar Kargeti v. State Of Uttarakhand; 2018 SCC OnLine Utt 29]

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† Ritu Singh, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

* Judge who has penned the judgment.

[1] NDTV, https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/gauhati-hc-cj-dhulia-justice-pardiwala-of-guj-hc-take-oath-as-sc-judges-2958197

[2] Supreme Court Observer, https://www.scobserver.in/judges/sudhanshu-dhulia/

[3] Supreme Court Observer, https://www.scobserver.in/judges/sudhanshu-dhulia/

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