Born on 25-04-1964, Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur was sworn in as the Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court on 28-07-2023 by the current Governor of Andhra Pradesh and former Judge of the Supreme Court of India, Justice S. Abdul Nazeer.1 The Supreme Court collegium recommended new Chief Justices to 7 High Courts as per resolution passed on 5-07-2023. With the approval of the government, Andhra Pradesh High Court got its new Chief Justice through notification dated 24-07-2023.
Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur will be retiring on 24-04-20262. Explore the career trajectory and notable decisions of Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur to have a brief introduction of the newly appointed Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court.
Career Trajectory of Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur
After completing his LLB from Jammu University3, Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur first got his hands on litigation and then stepped into judiciary later. He was enrolled as an Advocate with the Bar Council of Delhi on 18-10-1989, and subsequently with the Bar Council of Jammu and Kashmir on 26-11-2010. He joined the chambers of his brother and former Chief Justice of India, Justice T.S. Thakur, and was designated as the Senior Advocate in 2011.4
Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur was appointed as the Permanent Judge of High Court of Jammu and Kashmir on 8-03-2013. He got transferred to the Bombay High Court on 10-06-2022.5
“I have found him to be a very sober, considerate and affable person. Family lineage reflects in his persona, and he has successfully carried forward the family legacy and has even bettered it in few aspects. He possesses humility, politeness, wisdom and sharp understanding, the inherent qualities of a true judge. I have found him to be a caring and an emotional person. He has always impressed me with his silence and the last-minute valuable suggestion in the meetings of the court which always helped me in taking a decision in a balanced manner in the right direction, one way or the other.”
~ Justice Pankaj Mithal on transfer of Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur to Bombay High Court6
Notable Decisions by Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur
In a Public Interest Litigation seeking investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (‘CBI') and the Enforcement Directorate (‘ED') against various office bearers of the Shivsena Party including Uddhav Thackeray alleging economic offences and disproportionate assets, the Division Bench of Dhiraj Singh Thakur* and Valmiki S.A. Menezes, JJ. dismissed the petition and held the same to be an abuse of the process of law.
[Gouri Abhay Bhide v. Union of India, 2023 SCC OnLine Bom 607]
‘Recovery procedure against directors not to be resorted to casually'; Bombay High Court quashes order under Section 264 of Income Tax Act
In a petition by Chairman and Managing Director of one “Crest Paper Mills Limited (“CPML”) seeking issuance of writ of certiorari for quashing order passed under section 179 of the Income Tax Act, 1961holding the petitioner liable to pay demand of Rs 3,98,19,430 with interest under Section 220(2), otherwise due and payable by the company, the Division Bench of Dhiraj Singh Thakur and Abhay Ahuja, JJ. quashed the said order under Section 264.
[Rajendra R. Singh v. CIT, 2022 SCC OnLine Bom 1582]
Habeas Corpus Petition seeking appropriate direction to respondents to produce her son, who went missing in the custody of State and observed that since the investigation would involve the areas beyond the territorial jurisdiction of the State of J&K where the Crime Branch cannot have any jurisdiction, it would be appropriate to refer the matter for investigation to the CBI under Section 364 of RPC. The Court also held that “it cannot be a silent spectator to the disappearance of the son of the petitioner who needs to be recovered and the matter investigated at the earliest.”
[Sabza Begum v. State of J&K, 2019 SCC OnLine J&K 666]
Section 35L(2) of Central Excise Act clarificatory; Issue of taxability and excisability to be entertained by Supreme Court: Bombay High Court
In an appeal filed under Section 35G of Central Excise Act, 1944 against order passed by the Customs Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT), the Court considered the question of Whether laying, connecting, joining pipeline for water supply project fell within “Erection, Commissioning or installation Service” as defined under section 65(105)(zzd) of the Finance Act, 1994 and was taxable under Service Tax. The Division Bench of Dhiraj Singh Thakur and Abhay Ahuja, JJ. explained that the High Court lacked jurisdiction to interfere since the appeal against the Tribunal in the instant matter could only be entertained by the Supreme Court.
[Commr. of Service Tax v. Surindra Engineering Co. Ltd., 2022 SCC OnLine Bom 4054]
Dhiraj Singh Thakur, J, allowed a petition filed to stay proceedings initiated against the petitioner under Section 7 and 8 of the Jammu & Kashmir Protection of Children from Sexual Violence Act, 2012 on the ground that when the offence was alleged to have been committed by the petitioner, the Act had not come into force and even the ordinance, which had been issued on 16-05-2018 had lived its life.
[Masood Ahmed v. State of J&K, 2018 SCC OnLine J&K 1030]
While considering the question of Whether a modification could be brought in the selection criteria post the commencement of the process and whether the Court could grant relief without hearing the effective parties and despite it not being prayed for in the petition, the Division Bench of Dhiraj Singh Thakur and Sindhu Sharma, JJ. allowed appeals accruing from a common judgment and set aside the judgment to a limited extent; on the grounds of liberty to modify criteria for selection procedures, justness and equitability.
[High Court of J&K v. Naveen Kumar, 2019 SCC OnLine J&K 537]
In a controversy mostly centered around the compliance of Section 18 of the Jammu & Kashmir Right of Prior Purchase Act, Svt. 1993, the Court concluded that the provisions of Section 18 of the Act had not been complied with. The Appellate Court held that any offer made by the seller without the offered price would be a failure on the part of the seller to comply with requirement of the service in terms of Section 18 of the Act.
[Mohd. Amin v. Krishan Lal, 2018 SCC OnLine J&K 1043]
The Division Bench comprising of Dhiraj Singh Thakur and Sindhu Sharma, JJ. ruled that a joint reading of Article 226 of the Constitution of India and Section 103 of the Constitution of State of Jammu & Kashmir leads to the conclusion that a writ court has a limited scope of interference in orders of a lower forum.
[Abdul Karim Tantray v. Go Airlines (India) Pvt. Ltd., 2018 SCC OnLine J&K 868]
Instant Letters Patent Appeal was filed before a 2-Judge Bench comprising of Dhiraj Singh Thakur and Sanjay Kumar Gupta, JJ., where appellant's plea to remain in the accommodation even after retirement which was allotted during his service was rejected with the view that that appellant's accommodation cannot be extended as other employees who are in service would require the said accommodation.
[Piaray Lal Koul v. Union of India, 2018 SCC OnLine J&K 568]]
The Division Bench of Dhiraj Singh Thakur and Sindhu Sharma, JJ. dismissed an order passed by the Single Judge in respect of determination of seniority in a challenge against promotions were made to the post of Incharge Assistant Engineers as Assistant Executive Engineers and held that the Writ Court did not address all the issues placed by the appellants/petitioners before the Writ Court and was disposed of with a general direction without determining the issue as to whether the placement of respondents over and above the petitioners/appellants was correctly done in terms of the impugned Government order or not.
[Hari Bhushan v. State of J&K, 2018 SCC OnLine J&K 1032]
The Bench of Dhiraj Singh Thakur, J., dismissed a writ petition filed against the order of the Deputy Chief Electoral Officer, whereby re-poll had been ordered for the post of a Sarpanch in the Panchayat Halqa Upper Sanai, Block Surankote. The Court held that the report about 25 votes gone missing was clear and unambiguous and hence the order of re-polling does not violate the provisions of the J&K Panchayati Raj Act. The Court held that the manner of arriving at the decision for ordering re-poll does not suffer from any illegality or perversity.
[Abdul Karim v. State of J&K, 2018 SCC OnLine J&K 864]
In a petition under Article 104 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, Dhiraj Singh Thakur J. dismissed the same and held that the order given did not suffer from any illegality, as whatever rights they claimed were as a result of the suit for specific performance, which had been stayed. Consequently, the petitioners had lost all rights to question the dispensation of rental compensation to the respondents.
[Bansi Lal v. Vijay Chand Katoch, 2018 SCC OnLine J&K 802]
While dealing with a Letters Patent Appeal which challenged the order passed by the Single Judge wherein a Government Order directing the premature retirement of the petitioner had been quashed the Division Bench comprising of Dhiraj Singh Thakur and Sanjay Kumar Gupta JJ. observed that hearsay reputation or casual statements questioning the integrity of a person would not be considered as they could be baseless or emanating from mala fide intentions and that the Opinions regarding doubtful integrity and questionable reputation would need to emanate from an officer who had an opportunity to work with the delinquent officer on a day-to-day basis.
[State of J&K v. Krishan Lal, 2017 SCC OnLine J&K 731]
5. Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur, High Court of Bombay https://bombayhighcourt.nic.in/processjshowReq.php?bhcpar=bmlkPTgw