As it is, dignity of an individual, even after he is dead, cannot be left to the mercy of the journalists/reporters. The same, being part of Article 21, has to be protected.

Justice Dipankar Datta

Nilesh Navalakha v. Union of India 2021 SCC OnLine Bom 56,

Let’s look back to the trajectory of Justice Dipankar Datta’s life, his career as an Advocate and Judge in the High Courts of Calcutta and Bombay, and at his current role as a Supreme Court Judge, through his various decisions.

Early Life1

Born on 09-02-1965 in a family with legal background, Justice Datta is the son of a former Calcutta High Court Judge, late Justice Salil Kumar Datta and brother-in-law of former Supreme Court Judge, Justice Amitava Roy.

*Did you Know? Justice Dipankar Datta is a second -generation Judge2.

Education and Advocacy3

Justice Datta obtained his LL.B. degree from the Hazra Law College, University of Calcutta in 1989 and was in the first batch of the University’s 5- year law course. He was enrolled as an Advocate on 16-11-1989. He worked as a Counsel for the Union of India since 1998 and as a Junior Standing Counsel for the State of West Bengal for two years.

*Did you Know? Justice Dipankar Datta even had a brief stint as a guest lecturer at University of Calcutta, where he taught Constitutional Law 4.


He also served as a Judge of the Calcutta High Court from 22-06-06 to 27-04-20. Thereafter, he was elevated as the Chief Justice of Bombay High Court. He was further elevated as a Judge of Supreme Court on 12 -12-22.

Supreme Court Judgments

  • In Munna Lal v. State of U.P., 2023 SCC OnLine SC 80, wherein the division bench of S. Ravindra Bhat and Dipankar Datta, JJ. held that the charge that the convicts had committed murder was not proved beyond reasonable doubt; hence, they were and are entitled to the benefit of doubt. Thus, the Trial Court’s judgment of conviction and order of sentence being unsustainable, was set aside; consequently, the impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court, upholding the conviction and sentence, too was set aside. Read more

  • In Godrej Sara Lee Ltd. v. Excise & Taxation Officer, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 95, the division bench of S. Ravindra Bhat and Dipankar Datta, JJ. held that mere availability of an alternative remedy of appeal or revision, which the party has not pursued, would not oust the jurisdiction of the High Court and render a writ petition “not maintainable. Further, it held that it is not the Assessing Authority’s orders but those passed by the Revisional Authority, which suffer from patent illegality. Thus, it invalidated the impugned final revisional orders for the Assessment Years 2003-04 and 2004-05, and made the interim order dated 18-01-2010 absolute. Read more

*Did you Know? Justice Datta played a significant role in ensuring home vaccination for the bedridden patients in Maharashtra, directing the State Government to introduce a mechanism for vaccination.6

Notable High Court Judgments

We have curated the following notable decisions rendered by Justice Dipankar Datta during his tenure in the High Courts of Calcutta and Bombay:

  • In Nilesh Navalakha v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine Bom 56, the Division Bench of Dipankar Datta, CJ and G.S. Kulkarni, J. said that the duty of the media to have news items printed or telecast based on true and correct version relating to incidents worth reporting accurately and without any distortion or embellishment as well as without taking sides, cannot, therefore, be overemphasised and held that media-trials during criminal investigation to be an interference with the administration of justice, amounting to ‘contempt of court’ as per the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971. Read more

  • In Pradeep Gandhy v. State of Maharashtra, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 662, the Division Bench of Dipankar Datta, CJ and S.S. Shinde, J. while addressing petitions filed against the burial of dead bodies of COVID-19 infectedpatients in kabrasthans, quoted Oscar Wilde to describe death and directed the State as well as the Corporation to ensure that all protective measures envisaged in the Government guidelines are strictly complied with not only by the members of the family of the deceased at the time of burial but also by those second-line workers who would, as part of their duty, deal with the cadaver of any suspected/confirmed COVID-19 infected individual immediately after death. Read more

  • In Jan Swasthya Abhiyan v. State of Maharashtra, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 713, the Division Bench of Dipankar Datta, C.J., and A.A. Sayed, J.while hearing petitions about facilities being provided during COVID-19 invoked portions of the speech – “Tryst with Destiny”, given by the India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on midnight August 14, 1947, to remind the authorities that service of India means the service of the millions who suffer, and observed that in view of the extraordinary situations emerging due to Covid-19, it is more imperative that the Government and the citizens, work together in order to put up a strong fight before the adversary that is Covid-19. Read more

  • Jalgaon Janta Sahakari Bank Ltd. v. CST, 2022 SCC OnLine Bom 1767,the issue before the Court in the instant matter was that between a secured creditor (defined in SARFAESI Act and Recovery of Debt and Bankruptcy Act), and the revenue departments of the Central/State Governments, who can legally claim priority for liquidation of their respective dues qua the borrower/dealer upon enforcement of the ‘security interest’ and consequent sale of the ‘secured asset’. The 3 Judge Bench of Dipankar Datta, CJ., and M.S. Karnik and N.J. Jamadar, JJ., while deliberating upon the question went on to frame and answer seven substantial questions of law on the issue. Read more

  • In Ruju R. Thakker v. State of Maharashtra, 2022 SCC OnLine Bom 3707, the Division Bench of Dipankar Datta, CJ., and M S Karnik J., directed Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai to take urgent steps in fixing the potholes existing as on date as well as the State Government and MCGM to audit the performance of the erring road contractors responsible for the bad road conditions. Read more

  • In R.S. Madireddy v. Union of India, 2022 SCC OnLine Bom 2657, the Division Bench of Dipankar Datta CJ., and M S Karnik J., held that the writ petitions although maintainable on the dates they were instituted, have ceased to be maintainable by reason of privatization of AIL which takes it beyond the jurisdiction to issue a writ or order or direction to it. Read more

  • In Nikita v. Union of India, 2022 SCC OnLine Bom 1626, the Division Bench of Dipankar Datta, CJ. and M.S. Karnik, J., took cognizance of a PIL which was filed bringing on record the unclean and unhygienic situation in the washrooms and toilets for the young girl students in Government aided schools. Read more

  • In Ratan Soli Luth v. State of Maharashtra, 2021 SCC OnLine Bom 1806 a case relating to the refusal of the Governor to nominate 12 members to the Legislative Council for over a year, Justice Datta while interpreting Arts. 171 and 166 of the Constitution, held that while the Court is not empowered to direct the Governor under Art. 361, however, it is the duty of the Governor to communicate his reservations within a reasonable time, otherwise the statutory intent would be defeated.

  • In Gera Developments (P) Ltd. v. State of Maharashtra, 2021 SCC OnLine Bom 6839 while hearing petitions about the failure of the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation to issue occupancy certificate and building completion certificate to multi-storied buildings, called the State government ‘Kumbhakarna’ for failing to take proper action at the right time.

  • In High Court on its own motion v. Bhiwandi Nizampur Municipal Corpn., 2022 SCC OnLine Bom 386, Justice Datta disposed of a suo motu PIL pertaining to building collapses in Mumbai and directed the Municipal corporations to ensure that broken down structures are managed well in advance to avoid any deaths.

  • Justice Datta refused to entertain a PIL seeking guidelines for protection of members of Internal Complaints Committee set up by private companies under the Prevention of Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act and asked the petitioner to approach Supreme Court, as the High Court did not have powers.7

  • In Rajendra Sadanand Burma v. State of Maharashtra, 2022 SCC OnLine Bom 2026, while hearing a PIL seeking directions to authorities to take measures to curb death of tribal children due to malnutrition and other lack of facilities, Justice Datta noted that while the State authorities were concerned, some more efforts were required.

  • Justice Datta also ordered a preliminary inquiry against the former Home Minister Anil Deshmukh in a corruption case8.

  • In Ganes Chandra Kundu v. State of W.B., 2014 SCC OnLine Cal 5110, Justice Datta directed the State Government to give opportunity to all the petitioners and other employees similarly situated to submit option to switch over to Pension-cum-Gratuity.

  • In J. Triveni v. State of West Bengal, 2010 SCC OnLine Cal 1692, Justice Datta allowed the petitioners to offer their candidature for direct recruitment from the bar to the cadre of Higher Judicial Officer in the rank of District Judge in the West Bengal Judicial Service, and said that the petitioners having dispatched the registered envelopes through the postal authorities in the manner required at least 48 hours before the stipulated time for receiving applications, they should not be made to suffer for any delay or laches on the part of the postal authorities.

  • In Sankar Datta v. State of W.B., 2013 SCC OnLine Cal 12183, Justice Datta held that availability of alternative remedy does not oust the jurisdiction of writ Court.

†Apoorva Goel, Editorial Assistant, EBC Publishing Pvt. Ltd., has prepared this report

1. The Hon’ble Justice Dipankar Datta, Calcutta High Court

2. Justice Dipankar Datta, SC Observer

3. The Hon’ble Justice Dipankar Datta, Calcutta High Court

4. Justice Dipankar Datta, SC Observer

5. Justice Dipankar Datta, Bombay High Court

6. Maharashtra to start home vaccination for bedridden people on trial basis; won’t wait for Centre’s nod: Govt to HC, The Economic Times

7. PIL in Bombay HC seeks protection for POSH panel members, The Times of India.

8. Bombay HC Chief Justice Dipankar Datta elevated to Supreme Court, Hindustan Times.

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