Justice Ramesh Deokinandan Dhanuka was appointed as Chief Justice of Bombay High Court via notification dated 26-05-2023 and was administered the oath of office on 28-05-2023 by Governor of Maharashtra, Ramesh Bais1. However, Justice Dhanuka is to retire today i.e on 30-05-2023, thereby making his tenure of 3 days as Chief Justice, the shortest one so far in the history of Bombay High Court2.
*Did you Know? Before Justice Ramesh D. Dhanuka’s 3-day tenure as Chief Justice, it was Justice K. Kalyan Das Desai, who had a short stint of 1 month (September-October 1972) as Bombay High Court’s Chief Justice3.
Early Life and Career as Advocate4
Justice Ramesh D. Dhanuka was born on 31-05-1961. He did his schooling and graduation in Mumbai (erstwhile Bombay). He acquired his bachelor’s degree in Commerce and Law from the University of Bombay and secured first class and stood second in third year law examination conducted by University of Bombay in 1985.
Justice Ramesh D. Dhanuka started his practice of Law at Bombay High Court in 1985 in the chamber of his father Justice Deokinanadan R. Dhanuka, till his elevation as Bombay High Court Judge in 1990.
Justice Ramesh D. Dhanuka then joined the chamber of S.R. Shah, retired City Civil Judge and leading Senior Advocate in the year 1990. He practiced on Appellate and Original Side of High Court of Judicature at Bombay in Constitutional Law and other branches of Law and particularly Arbitration, Companies Act, Suits, Testamentary, Municipal Laws, Service Law, Rent Act.
Justice Ramesh D. Dhanuka was on the Senior Counsel Panel of Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai for several years and appeared in large number of matters representing Municipal Corporation in Bombay High Court.
Career as a Judge
On 23-01-2012, Justice Ramesh D. Dhanuka was appointed as Additional Judge of the Bombay High Court and was later confirmed as Permanent Judge of the Bombay High Court on 16-12-2013.
The Supreme Court Collegium in its resolution dated 19-04-2023, had recommended the name of Justice Ramesh D. Dhanuka as the next Chief Justice of Bombay of High Court as he was next in order of seniority in the Bombay High Court after Justice S.V. Gangapurwala. However, owing to the approval from Ministry of Law and Justice pending, Justice Gangapurwala kept functioning as the Acting Chief Justice of Bombay High Court.
Finally, on 26-05-2023, the Collegium’s recommendation was approved and Justice Ramesh D. Dhanuka was elevated as the Chief Justice of Bombay High Court on May 28, 2023.
Notable Judgments by Justice Ramesh D. Dhanuka
‘Procedural difficulties may affect quantum of compensation, not validity of land acquisition’; Bombay HC refuses to interfere with proceedings of land acquisition
In Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Co. Ltd. v. State of Maharashtra, 2023 SCC OnLine Bom 341, where a declaration was sought that the impugned Amendment viz. Section 3 of the Fair compensation (Maharashtra amendment) Act, 2018 is repugnant to and does not prevail over the provisions of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (‘Fair Compensation Act’) and is ultra vires Article 14, 254(1) and 300-A of the Constitution of India and is void ab initio., the bench of R.D. Dhanuka* and M.M. Sathaye, JJ. dismissed the same refusing to interfere with the proceedings of land acquisition for Bullet Train Project.
Bombay HC permits Municipal Corporation of Greater Bombay to execute project for providing adequate water supply to citizens around Gorai Village
In Municipal Corporation of Greater Bombay v Union of India, 2023 SCC OnLine Bom 485, seeking a writ in mandamus directing the Respondent authorities to permit the petitioner to execute a project of the proposed suction tank for providing adequate water supply to citizens around Gorai Village, a division bench of R D Dhanuka and M M Sathaye, JJ., granted the prayer and held that the said project is for the public good and is in the public interest.
Bombay HC upholds decision by Thane Municipal Corporation permitting Eknath Shinde faction to conduct ‘Diwali Pahat’ programme
In Mandar Pramod Vichare v. Thane Municipal Corporation5, seeking to quash and set aside the order dated 13-10-2022 passed by Thane Municipal Corporation (respondent 2) granting permission to respondent 3 and 4 to erect the stage for ‘Diwali Pahat’ programme to be held on the premises opposite to Rajawant Jewellers, Talav Pali, Thane, R.D. Dhanuka and Kamal Khata, JJ., dismissed the petition and upheld the decision by Thane Municipal Corporation in granting such permission to respondent 4 as no mala fide was noticed since the application filed by respondent 4 was prior in point of time and respondent No. 4 has complied with all terms and conditions for such permission.
‘Spare religious trusts in the matter of distributing public largesse’; Bombay HC directs constitution of new Shree Sai Baba Sansthan Management Committee
In Uttamrao Rambhaji Shelke v. State of Maharashtra, 2022 SCC OnLine Bom 2280, seeking quashing and setting aside of the impugned order dated 16-09-2021 passed by the Principal Secretary, Law and Judiciary Department, Mantralaya, Mumbai appointing the respondent 3 to 14 as Members of Managing Committee of Shree Sai Baba Sansthan Trust, Shirdi Taluka Rahata, District Ahmednagar, a Division Bench of R D Dhanuka* and S G Mehare, JJ. held that the State Government has committed vast illegalities in appointing these trustees by disregarding the principles laid down by this Court in a series of judgments. It further stated that various resolutions passed by the State Government appointing the persons as trustees on the said Sansthan Trust are in violation of the principles laid down by this Court and in breach of the provisions of Shree Sai Baba Sansthan Trust (Shirdi) Act, 2004. The Court remarked that-
“If the State Government would have appointed independent trustees and not the politicians who are having close connection with the ruling party, the said Sansthan Trust which is a public Trust and is a custodian of public money and properties would have saved huge amount of public money spent on unnecessary litigations.”
Can minority educational institution refuse admission to autistic child contravening statutory direction given before grant of minority status? Bombay HC answers
The Division Bench of R.D. Dhanuka and R.I. Chagla, JJ., in Ashish Patel v. Edubridge International School, 2021 SCC OnLine Bom 1587, addressed a petition revolving around the Right to Education Act, 2009. In the instant petition, petitioner sought directions against respondents 1 and 2 to forthwith grant admission to his son as per the allotment letter issued to the petitioner by the competent authorities under Right to Education Act, 2009 in Standard I during the academic year 2020-21 and 2021-22. The Bench opined that respondents 1 and 2 cannot be allowed to take advantage of such certificate obtained after committing default in complying with the directives which were already issued prior to the date of such certificate. The disobedience of the directives issued by the Education Department cannot be condoned by obtaining certificate as minority education institution subsequently.
Bombay HC upholds the validity of S. 2(24) of the MVAT Act, 2002 as amended by Maharashtra Act XXXII of 2006 and thereafter by Maharashtra Act XXV of 2007
The Division Bench of D.Y. Chandrachud* and R.D. Dhanuka, JJ., in Maharashtra Chamber of Housing Industry v. State of Maharashtra, 2012 SCC OnLine Bom 546, upheld that validity of Section 2(24) of the Maharashtra Value Added Tax Act, 2002 as amended initially by Maharashtra Act XXXII of 2006 and thereafter by Maharashtra Act XXV of 2007, by pointing out that the amended definition of the expression sale in clause b(ii) of the Explanation to Section 2(24) brings within the ambit of that expression transactions of that nature which are referrable to Article 366(29A)(b) of the Constitution. The transactions which the legislature had in mind involve works contracts.
“When constitutional norms govern state legislation such as those provided in Article 366(29A) in this case, the legislation must be construed in the context of those norms which it cannot transgress. The law is valid because it does not breach those boundaries. There is no breach of constitutional boundaries”.
Bombay HC directs State authorities to ensure the presence of adequate number of lifeguards on sea beaches during Ganpati idol immersions
The Division Bench of A.S. Oka and R.D. Dhanuka, JJ., in Janhit Manch v. Union of India, 2016 SCC OnLine Bom 12068, while observing that in the city of Mumbai, on account of various festivals, large number of people visit various beaches in the city, directed the State Government and the Mumbai Municipal Corporation to ensure that lifeguards equipped with suitable and necessary gears and equipment be posted on beaches where Ganesh idol immersions take place. State was also directed to ensure that additional lifeguards are also posted during such festivals on the concerned beaches of the city.
There is no procedure prescribed under arbitration agreement for notifying claims before invoking arbitration agreement by either party: Bombay HC
The Bench of R.D. Dhanuka, J.* in Country Club (India) Ltd. v. Choudhury & Choudhury (India) Ltd., 2016 SCC OnLine Bom 8993, while deliberating over the proprietary of raising additional claims during arbitration proceedings, held that there is no procedure prescribed under arbitration agreement for notifying claims before invoking arbitration agreement by either party. Hence under purview of S. 23(3) of Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, there is no bar from making any additional claims or for increasing claim amount in arbitration proceedings after invoking arbitration agreement.
Maharashtra Public Trusts Act, 1950 a self-contained Code with there being no provision of condonation of delay in filing the change report: Bombay HC
The Bench of R.D. Dhanuka, J*. in Vijay Vasudev Rane v. Shashikant Bhaskar Nirgudkar, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 1435, observed that the period of limitation of 90 days is specifically prescribed under Section 22(1) of MPT Act, 1950 for filing the change report, the provision being silent for condonation of delay and the period of 90 days being mandatory.
Justice Ramesh D. Dhanuka may have had a short tenure as Chief Justice, but as an esteemed Judge of the Bombay High Court, Justice Dhanuka takes with himself 11 years of experience in judging multitude of cases ranging from arbitration disputes to civil and criminal disputes. If one is to study the judgments rendered by Justice Dhanuka6, they will find an expert in depth analysis and equally deft application of legal principles.
Presiding over Bombay High Court’s Ceremonial Bench, which was convened to celebrate Justice Dhanuka’s contributions to the Court and Law, the retiring Judge was heaped in accolades from fellow Judges, lawyers and even litigants, all who expressed their heartfelt gratitude to the Judge whose Court came to be considered as a “model court where justice was dispensed without any difference on the standing of the lawyers, with patience and a disarming smile,”7
5. Writ Petition No. 12593 OF 2022