Early Life and Education
Justice Sanjay Karol was born on 23-08-1961 and hails from village Garli, District Kangra, Himachal Pradesh. He completed his schooling from St. Edwards School, Shimla and obtained a bachelor’s degree in history from Government Degree College, Shimla1 and a degree in law at the Himachal Pradesh University.2
As an Advocate
Justice Karol enrolled as an advocate in 1986 and practiced across fora at Delhi and other High Courts. He practiced in Constitutional, Taxation, Corporate, Civil and Criminal matters and appeared as Counsel in the Inter-State water Dispute (BBMB Project) in the Supreme Court of India.3 He was appointed Advocate General of the State of Himachal Pradesh in 1998 and served in that capacity till 2003. He was conferred the designation of Senior Advocate in 1999.4
As a Judge
Justice Karol was elevated as a Judge of the Himachal Pradesh High Court on 08-03-20075 and later discharged his duties as Acting Chief Justice of the same High Court from 25-04-2017 to 05-10-2018.
Justice Karol served Himachal Pradesh High Court for a period of eleven and a half years.6 He was also the patron-in-chief of Himachal Pradesh Legal Services Authority and the Chancellor of the Himachal Pradesh National Law University.
He was then elevated as Chief Justice of Tripura High Court on 09-11-20187 and was also the patron-in-chief of Tripura Legal Services Authority. Justice Karol served as Chief Justice of Tripura High Court until his transfer to the Patna High Court8 where he was appointed as Chief Justice on 11-11-2019 and furthermore served as the Chancellor of the Chanakya National Law University.
Justice Sanjay Karol was elevated as Judge of the Supreme Court of India on 06-02-2023.9
Did you Know? When Justice Karol took charge as Chief Justice of Tripura High Court, the number of pending cases was 60,724. Due to Justice Karol's active and concerted efforts the figure significantly reduced to 26,834 as on 31-08-2019.10
Notable Judgments by Justice Sanjay Karol
‘Beneficial Standing Orders to prevail over employer-employee agreements'; SC holds workmen temporarily engaged with Jet Airways entitled to permanency
In an appeal against judgment passed by Bombay High Court confirming award passed by the Central Government Industrial Tribunal (‘CGIT’) on 30-03-2017 rejecting the demand of Bharatiya Kamgar Karmachari Mahasangh (‘Union’) for reinstatement with full back wages, the Division Bench of Abhay S. Oka and Sanjay Karol*, JJ. upheld the benefits which the Union was entitled to and set aside the said award and its confirmation. Read More
[Bharatiya Kamgar Karmachari Mahasangh v. Jet Airways Ltd., 2023 SCC OnLine SC 872]
Can License to practice medicine be suspended as a punishment for Contempt of Court?
In a case where the Supreme Court was called upon to decide whether the suspension of license to practice medicine can be handed down under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, the bench of BR Gavai and Sanjay Karol*, JJ has answered in negative and has held that awarding such punishment will be a complete disregard for the statutory text of the Contempt of Courts Act 1971. Read more
[Gostho Behari Das v. Dipak Kumar Sanyal, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 889]
Adherence to Article 14 by State is necessary even while acting in Contractual Realm
In a batch of civil appeals against the Judgment and Order of the Madras High Court, the three Judge Bench of B.R. Gavai, Sanjay Karol* and Aravind Kumar, JJ., said that the State must abide by Article 14 of the Constitution of India even if its action was in the contractual realm. Read more
[Madras Aluminium Co. Ltd. v. T.N. Electricity Board, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 783]
1996 Lajpat Nagar Blast | 27 years later, SC awards life term to 4; expresses anguish at slow trial due to ‘possible involvement of influential persons’
The 3-judge bench of BR Gavai, Vikram Nath and Sanjay Karol, JJ has awarded life imprisonment to 4 convicts in the 1996 Lajpat Nagar Bomb Blasts case that killed 13 persons and left 38 persons injured. The Court held that the prosecution proved the guilt of the accused in question in the commission of the crime and found them to be part of a conspiracy as under Section 120B Penal Code, 1860. Read more
[Mohd. Naushad v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2023 SCC OnLine SC 784]
UAPA Judgment| Justice Sanjay Karol’s opinion on reliance on American decisions to read down Section 10 UAPA
In a reference made on behalf of the Union of India and the State of Assam to larger bench, against the judgment and order passed in Arup Bhuyan v. Union of India, (2011) 3 SCC 377 as well as State of Kerala v. Raneef, (2011) 1 SCC 784, pursuant to the order passed by this Court in Arup Bhuyan v. State of Assam, (2015) 12 SCC 702, the full bench comprising of M. R. Shah*, C.T Ravikumar and Sanjay Karol*, JJ. upheld the constitutional validity of Section 10(a)(i) of the Unlawful Activities and Prevention Act, 1967 (‘UAPA’). Sanjay Karol J. concurred with the views taken by the Bench but traced the development of law on the issue in India and the application of the decisions rendered by the Courts in the United States of America. Thus, he held that placing reliance on decisions rendered in a distinct scenario as well as a demonstrably different constitutional position, especially in cases which involve considerations of national security and sovereignty, was not justified. Read more
[Arup Bhuyan v. State of Assam, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 338]
Supreme Court| Candidates for post of private secretaries at Delhi HC entitled to notional seniority in accordance with revised marks
In an appeal against the judgment and order passed by the Delhi High Court, wherein the Court has set aside the previous merit lists and directed that the seniority of candidates mentioned in final merit list and those who were granted the benefit of re-evaluation would be considered as appointed on 30-01-2017, however, their seniority and position shall be reckoned after last appointed candidate, the division bench of MR Shah* and Sanjay Karol, JJ. held that the appellants shall be entitled to the notional seniority with effect from 30-01-2017 in accordance with the revised marks on re-evaluation. Read more
[Sunil v. High Court of Delhi, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 516]
Did You Know? When Justice Karol was Acting Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court, he saved a milkman suffering from seizure by helping him reach hospital timely.11
Patna High Court
Patna HC berates Bihar Government for not prioritizing mental health of people in need; Directs State to ensure the establishment of State Mental Health Authority
The Division Bench of Sanjay Karol, CJ* and S. Kumar, J., directed the Chief Secretary, Government of Bihar to take all steps ensuring the establishment of State Mental Health Authority as per Section 45 of the Mental Health Care Act, 2017. The Bench remarked that “It appears that mental health of a person and/or treatment of those who are in need, more so during the time of COVID-19, is the least priority of the State Government.” Read more
[Akanksha Maviya v. Union of India, 2022 SCC OnLine Pat 305]
Right to Sanitation a fundamental right: Patna HC issues directions to Bihar Govt and NHAI to construct “Public toilets” on highways
Sanitation is personal and private, inextricably linked to human dignity. At the same time, sanitation has an essential public health dimension. A recent judgment by the Division bench of Sanjay Karol, CJ* and S. Kumar J*. observed that the right to sanitation comes within the scope of Article 21 and therefore, directed the State, National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), and Oil Marketing Companies (OMC) to construct public toilets and public conveniences on highways across the state of Bihar. Read more
[National Highway Projects v. State of Bihar, 2022 SCC OnLine Pat 1048]
A Division Bench of Sanjay Karol, CJ. and S. Kumar, J. declared Bihar Municipal (Amendment) Act, 2021 as unconstitutional to the effect of amendments carried out in Sections 36, 37, 38 and 41 of the Bihar Municipal Act, 2007, by virtue of amending Sections 2, 3, 4 and 5. Read more
[Ashish Kumar Sinha v. Union of India, 2022 SCC OnLine Pat 3472]
Seats reserved for OBC/EBC for municipal body election held illegal; Patna HC directs State Election Commission to re-notify seats reserved for OBC treating them as general seats
In a case relating to the reservation to the backward class category for the post of Councellors in Municipalities, the division bench of Sanjay Karol, CJ.* and S. Kumar, J. has held that the reservation of seats for Other Backward Classes (OBC) and Extremely Backward Classes (EBC) in urban local body elections was illegal and directed the State Election Commission to re-notify seats reserved for the OBC in the local polls as general category. In this case, the petitioner wanted the elections to the Municipal Body, to be conducted without providing reservation to the Backward Class Category, for it be in breach of the three-fold test and in the absence of reservation, the seats would be left open for General Category. However, pending adjudication the Election Commission issued a notification fixing the schedule for elections in October, 2022, while the posts of Deputy Chief Councilor of Municipalities are reserved for specified categories. Read more
[Sunil Kumar v. State of Bihar, 2022 SCC OnLine Pat 3005]
PAN card and Aadhaar Card not a proof of Indian Citizenship for Foreign National: Patna HC
The Division Bench of Sanjay Karol, C.J. and S. Kumar, J. answered the question that “Can the foreign national’s voter ID Card; PAN Card; Aadhaar Card; acquiring education or immovable property in India; having a Bank Account, function as proof of Indian Citizenship?” in negative. Indian citizens can marry a foreign national under the Special Marriage Act 1954. The Bench also said that foreign national does not become an Indian citizen on marriage with a citizen under the Act. After the marriage, the foreign national has an option to get registered as an Indian citizen. Even then, the person must fulfil the requirement of residency before they can apply for Indian Citizenship.
[Kiran Gupta v. State Election Commission, 2020 SCC OnLine Pat 1641]
Tripura High Court
No person including State shall sacrifice any animal/bird within temples: Tripura HC
In a Public Interest Litigation, the Division Bench of Sanjay Karol, C.J*. and Arindam Lodh, J. answered the questions that “Whether act of the State in offering an animal for sacrifice in the Temples in Tripura, can be said to be a secular activity and as to whether prohibiting the same would infringe the Fundamental right, as envisaged under Article 25(1) of the Constitution of India?” and that “Whether the age long practice of 500 years of sacrificing animals, after stoppage of practice of human sacrifice, in Tripureswari Devi Temple, Udaipur, Gomati District, Tripura can be construed as an essential and integral part of religion, as protected under Article 25(1) of the Constitution of India?” The Bench prohibited and banned animal/birds sacrifice in the temples and directed that- no person including the State shall be allowed to sacrifice of any animal/bird within the precincts of any one of the temples within the State of Tripura; and no person shall sacrifice such animal within the precincts of any of the temples within the State of Tripura.
[Subhas Bhattacharjee v. State of Tripura, 2019 SCC OnLine Tri 441]
Did You Know? Justice Karol initiated a cultural program — ‘An Evening with the Angels’ in the Tripura High Court on Teacher’s Day.12
Documents forming genesis of opinion in passing an order of preventive detention must be supplied to Detenu: Tripura HC
In a Habeas Corpus petition, the Division Bench of Sanjay Karol, C.J. and Arindam Lodh, J. held that not each and every document is required to be supplied to the detenu, but then the documents forming genesis of the opinion of the competent authority in passing an order of preventive detention, necessarily have to be supplied.
[Shyam Manik Debnath v. State of Tripura, 2019 SCC OnLine Tri 453]
Himachal Pradesh High Court
Did you Know? During 2018 water crisis in Shimla, control room of Shimla Municipal Corporation faced a surprise checking in the wee hours by Acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol, who went through the records to take note of public grievances. Not only this, but Justice Karol even inspected several localities at night to take stock of water supply situation.13
Shimla Water Crisis | Himachal Pradesh HC directs no supply of water tankers to VIPs
The Himachal Pradesh High Court took suo motu cognizance of the water crisis in the State’s capital Shimla and the Division Bench of Sanjay Karol, Acting Chief Justice and Ajay Mohan Goel, J. gave stern directions that:
no water through water tankers shall be supplied by the Municipal Corporation, Shimla to any individual, more so in a VIP area, be it the Judges (including the Acting Chief Justice), Ministers, MLA’s Bureaucrats, Police Officers and commercial establishments;
all construction activity within Shimla planning area shall forthwith remain suspended for at least one week;
an endeavor shall be made by the Chief Secretary, Government of Himachal Pradesh/Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Shimla, to immediately approach the Army Authorities for diverting the water used for watering the Golf Course at Annadale, situated within the Municipal limits of Shimla town as also the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, which has got huge water storage tanks, to meet emergent situation of lack of supply of potable drinking water within the Municipal limits of Shimla town;
all car washing operations within Shimla town shall remain suspended for a period of one week.
[State of H.P., In re, 2018 SCC OnLine HP 720]
*Judge who authored the judgment