“Our ability to recognise others who are different is a sign of our own evolution. We miss the symbols of a compassionate and humane society only at our peril”.
Justice Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud in Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India, (2018) 10 SCC 1
Justice Dr. Dhananjaya Yeshwant Chandrachud was born on 11-11-1959 to former Chief Justice of India, Justice Y.V. Chandrachud. He practiced law at the Bomaby High Court and Supreme Court of India. He was designated as Senior Advocate by the Bombay High Court in June 1998 and in the same year was appointed as the Additional Solicitor General of India. He appeared in several important cases involving Rights of Bonded Women Workers, Rights of HIV Positive Workers, Contract Labour and Rights of Religious and Linguistic Minorities.
Journey to becoming Supreme Court Judge
On 29th March 2000, Justice Chandrachud was appointed as Additional Judge of the Bombay High Court. On 31st October 2013, he took oath as the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court until he was appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court on 13th May 2016.
♦Did you Know? Justice Chandrachud is likely to serve as the Chief Justice of India for a period of 2 years starting from November, 2022 to November, 2024. His father, Justice Y.V. Chandrachud, was the longest serving Chief Justice of India. [Read more about Justice Y.V. Chandrachud here]
Recent and Notable Judgments that Justice Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud has been a part of
Nitisha v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 261
In major win for women Officer in Indian Army, the Division Bench of Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud and M.R. Shah, JJ., held that the administrative requirement imposed by the Indian Army authorities while considering the case of the Women Short Service Commissions Officers (WSSCO) for the grant of Permanent Commission (PC), of benchmarking these officers with the officers lowest in merit in the corresponding male batch is arbitrary and irrational. The Court hence, directed that such requirement shall not be enforced while implementing the decision in Ministry of Defence v. Babita Puniya, (2020) 7 SCC 469
“It is not enough to proudly state that women officers are allowed to serve the nation in the Armed Forces, when the true picture of their service conditions tells a different story. A superficial sense of equality is not in the true spirit of the Constitution and attempts to make equality only symbolic.”
Mahendra K.C. v. State of Karnataka, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1021
In a case where the Single Judge of Karnataka High Court had termed person committing suicide a ‘weakling’ and also made observations on how the behavior of the deceased before he committed suicide was not that of a person who is depressed and suffering from mental health issues, the bench of Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud and B.V. Nagarathna, JJ., held that such observations describing the manner in which a depressed person ought to have behaved deeply diminishes the gravity of mental health issues and that “The mental health of a person cannot be compressed into a one size fits all approach.”
“Individual personality differences manifest as a variation in the behavior of people. Therefore, how an individual copes up with a threat- both physical and emotional, expressing (or refraining to express) love, loss, sorrow and happiness, varies greatly in view of the multi-faceted nature of the human mind and emotions.”
Hariram Bhambhi v. Satyanarayan, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1010
In a case where Rajasthan High Court had granted bail by merely “keeping in view the facts and circumstances of the case”, the bench of Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud and B.V. Nagarathna, JJ., held that such orders cannot pass muster. Noticing that there was absolutely no reasoning in the order of the High Court granting bail, after recording the submissions of the first respondent’s counsel apart from noting that the public prosecutor had opposed the bail, the Court said,
“The duty to record reasons cannot be obviated by recording submissions, followed by an omnibus “in the facts and circumstances” formula. Brief reasons which indicate the basis for granting bail are essential, for it is the reasons adduced by the court which indicate the basis of the order.”
Sarabjeet Singh Mokha v. District Magistrate, Jabalpur, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1019
In a case where the Government caused unreasonable delay in considering the representation and thereafter failed to communicate the rejection to a person detained under Section 3(2) of National Security Act 1980 (NSA), the 3-judge bench of Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, Vikram Seth and BV Nagarathna, JJ., held that the procedural rights of the detenu emanating from Article 22 of the Constitution and Section 8 of the NSA were not sufficiently protected in the present case. Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, J., observed that, “Preventive detention in independent India is to be exercised with utmost regard to constitutional safeguards”.
“The State Government cannot expect this Court to uphold its powers of subjective satisfaction to detain a person, while violating the procedural guarantees of the detenu that are fundamental to the laws of preventive detention enshrined in the Constitution.”
Jalkal Vibhag Nagar Nigam v. Pradeshiya Industrial and Investment Corporation, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 960
The 3-judge bench of Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, Vikram Nath and B.V. Nagarathna, JJ., upheld the validity of Sections 52 (1)(a), Section 55(b)(1) and Section 56 of the UP Water Supply and Sewerage Act, 1975 and held that the levy under Section 52 falls squarely under the ambit of Entry 49 of List II as it is in the nature of a tax and not a fee. The Court also went on to hold that the levy which is imposed under Section 52 is a tax on lands and buildings within the meaning of Entry 49 of List II.
V. Nagarajan v. SKS Ispat and Power Ltd., 2021 SCC OnLine SC 959
Dealing with the question as to when will the clock for calculating the limitation period run for proceedings under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), the bench of Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, Vikram Nath and B.V. Nagarathna, JJ., held that Sections 61(1) and (2) of the IBC consciously omit the requirement of limitation being computed from when the “order is made available to the aggrieved party”, in contradistinction to Section 421(3) of the Companies Act.
“… the omission of the words “from the date on which the order is made available” for the purposes of computation of limitation in Section 61(2) of the IBC, is a consistent signal of the intention of the legislature to nudge the parties to be proactive and facilitate timely resolution.”
CBI v. Thommandru Hannah Vijayalakshmi, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 923
The 3-judge bench of Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, Vikram Nath and B.V. Nagarathna, JJ., held that a Preliminary Enquiry is not mandatory in all cases which involve allegations of corruption. The Court said that in case the information received by the CBI, through a complaint or a “source information”, discloses the commission of a cognizable offence, it can directly register a Regular Case instead of conducting a Preliminary Enquiry, where the officer is satisfied that the information discloses the commission of a cognizable offence. Holding that the institution of a Preliminary Enquiry in cases of corruption is not made mandatory before the registration of an FIR under the CrPC, Prevention of Corruption Act or even the CBI Manual, the Court said that issuing a direction to that affect will be “tantamount to stepping into the legislative domain.”
Union of India v. VKC Footsteps India (P) Ltd., 2021 SCC OnLine SC 706
The division bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud and MR Shah, JJ has upheld the validity of Section 54(3) of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 (CGST Act) which provides for refund of unutilised input tax credit (ITC) in certain cases.
“A claim to refund is governed by statute. There is no constitutional entitlement to seek a refund.”
Saregama India Limited v. Next Radio Limited, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 817
The Division Bench comprising of Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud and B. V. Nagarathna, JJ., set aside the impugned interim order of Madras High Court holding it to be an attempt to re-write Rule 29(4) of the Copyright Rules 2013. The Bench remarked that, “The interim order converts the second proviso into a “routine procedure” instead of an exception (as the High Court has described its direction). This exercise by the High Court amounts to re-writing. Such an exercise of judicial redrafting of legislation or delegated legislation cannot be carried out.”
Jamia Masjid v. K.V. Rudrappa, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 792
In an important ruling on Res Judicata, the 3-judge bench of Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, Vikram Nath and Hima Kohli, JJ., has held that the issues that arise in a subsequent suit may either be questions of fact or of law or mixed questions of law and fact.
“Issues that arise in a subsequent suit may either be questions of fact or of law or mixed questions of law and fact. An alteration in the circumstances after the decision in the first suit, will require a trial for the determination of the plea of res judicata if there arises a new fact which has to be proved”.
Chief Election Commissioner of India v. M.R. Vijayabhaskar, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 364
In the instant matter, the Division Bench of Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud and M.R. Shah, JJ., addressed the larger issues of the freedom of speech and expression of the media, the right to information of citizens and the accountability of the judiciary to the nation, within the core question of “whether a constitutional body (the Election Commission of India) can set up a plea that constitutional status is an immunity from judicial oversight?” The Bench held that there was no substance in the prayer of the EC for restraining the media from reporting on court proceedings.
“This Court stands as a staunch proponent of the freedom of the media to report court proceedings. This we believe is integral to the freedom of speech and expression of those who speak, of those who wish to hear and to be heard and above all, in holding the judiciary accountable to the values which justify its existence as a constitutional institution.
Distribution of Essential Supplies and Services During Pandemic, In re, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 372
The 3-judge bench of Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, L. Nageswara Rao and S. Ravindra Bhat, JJ., clarified that the purpose for taking the suo motu cognisance the “grim” situation of the country hit by the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic and non-availability of COVID-19 essentials was not to supplant or to substitute the judicial process which is being conducted in several High Courts across the country under Article 226 of the Constitution.
“The High Courts are well suited to make an assessment of the ground realities which prevail in each State and to find flexible solutions to deal with practical concerns of and the serious hardships faced by the citizens. Hence, there is no reason or justification to interdict the exercise of the jurisdiction of the High Courts in responding to the human problems faced by the citizens in the States and Union Territories and to find solutions with the cooperation of the authorities.”
Arnab Manoranjan Goswami v. State of Maharashtra, (2021) 2 SCC 427
In a case where the Bombay High Court failed to evaluate even prima facie of the most basic issue, thereby refusing bail to the accused, the bench of Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee, JJ., reminded the High Courts and District Courts of their duty to ensure human liberty. Justice Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud who authored the decision, observed that, “Law should not become a ruse for targeted harassment”.
“Liberty survives by the vigilance of her citizens, on the cacophony of the media and in the dusty corridors of courts alive to the rule of (and not by) law. Yet, much too often, liberty is a casualty when one of these components is found wanting”.
State of Gujarat v. Narayan, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 949
The bench of Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud and B.V. Nagarathna, JJ., formulated “broad, general” principles governing rules for granting parole and furlough, holding that parole and furlough are distinct in nature and that although furlough can be claimed without a reason, the prisoner does not have an absolute legal right to claim furlough.
Ministry of Defence v. Babita Puniya, (2020) 7 SCC 469
In this major verdict, the bench of Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud and Ajay Rastogi, JJ., ordered that the permanent commission will apply to all women officers in the Indian Army in service, irrespective of their years of service. Holding that the blanket non- consideration of women for criteria or command appointments absent an individuated justification by the Army cannot be sustained in law, the Court said that the Army has provided no justification in discharging its burden as to why women across the board should not be considered for any criteria or command appointments. Command assignments are not automatic for men SSC officers who are granted PC and would not be automatic for women either.
Rajesh v. State of Haryana, (2021) 1 SCC 118
The 3-judge bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee, JJ., summarised the principles relating to conduct of a Test Identification Parade (TIP) and held that
“… the identification in the course of a TIP is intended to lend assurance to the identity of the accused. The finding of guilt cannot be based purely on the refusal of the accused to undergo an identification parade.”
K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India (Privacy- 9 Judge),(2017) 10 SCC 1
Justice Chandrachud was part of the 9 Judge Bench which unanimously held that, Right to Privacy is a basic fundamental right. The Bench, which also comprised of J.S. Khehar, CJ. and J. Chelameswar, S.A. Bobde, R.K. Agrawal, R.F. Nariman, A.M. Sapre, S.K. Kaul and S.A. Nazeer, JJ., observed that Right to Privacy forms an intrinsic part of Art. 21 and freedoms guaranteed in Pt. III. It permeates core of Preambular philosophy underlying “liberty” and “dignity” as also human concepts of “life” and “personal liberty” enshrined in Art. 21 and wide ranging freedoms guaranteed under Pt. III, considered essential for a meaningful human existence. Dr. Chandrachud, J., writing for himself and on behalf of J.S. Khehar, CJ, R.K. Agrawal and S.A. Nazeer, JJ, said that Privacy includes at its core the preservation of personal intimacies, the sanctity of family life, marriage, procreation, the home and sexual orientation. He added,
“While the legitimate expectation of privacy may vary from the intimate zone to the private zone and from the private to the public arenas, it is important to underscore that privacy is not lost or surrendered merely because the individual is in a public place. Privacy attaches to the person since it is an essential facet of the dignity of the human being”.
♦Did you Know? The Privacy case also marked a unique moment in judicial history of India; as Justice Chandrachud overruled the ADM Jabalpur decision in which his father, Late Justice Y.V. Chandrachud was part of the majority. Terming the judgments rendered by the majority as “seriously flawed”, Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, J., observed that-
“H.R. Khanna, J. was clearly right in holding that the recognition of the right to life and personal liberty under the Constitution does not denude the existence of that right, apart from it nor can there be a fatuous assumption that in adopting the Constitution the people of India surrendered the most precious aspect of the human persona, namely, life, liberty and freedom to the State on whose mercy these rights would depend”.
Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India, (2018) 10 SCC 1
In this landmark 5 -Judge Bench decision which became instrumental in upholding the rights of the LGBT community, Dipak Misra, CJ., and R.F. Nariman, A.M. Khanwilkar, Dr D.Y. Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, JJ., held Section 377 IPC to be unconstitutional insofar it criminalised gay sex between consenting adults. The Bench reversed the 2-Judge Bench decision in Suresh Kumar Koushal v. Naz Foundation, (2014) 1 SCC 1.
In his concurring opinion, Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, J., while stating that, “It is difficult to right the wrongs of history. But we can certainly set the course for the Future”, held that lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders have a constitutional right to equal citizenship in all its manifestations. Sexual orientation is recognised and protected by the Constitution.
Joseph Shine v. Union of India,(2019) 3 SCC 39
The 5-Judge Constitution Bench held Section 497 IPC and Section 198 (2) CrPC to be unconstitutional and violative of Articles 14, 15 (1) and 21 of the Constitution. Dipak Misra, C.J., delivered the leading judgment for himself and A.M. Khanwilkar, J. While R.F. Nariman, Dr D.Y. Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, JJ., each delivered their separate concurring opinions. Referring to several foreign courts’ judgments and opinions of celebrated authors, Dr. Chandrachud, J. observed that-
“If the ostensible object of the law is to protect the ‘institution of marriage’, it provides no justification for not recognising the agency of a woman whose spouse is engaged in a sexual relationship outside of marriage. She can neither complain nor is the fact that she is in a marital relationship with a man of any significance to the ingredients of the offence. Section 497 is founded on the notion that a woman by entering upon marriage loses, so to speak, her voice, autonomy and agency. Arbitrariness is writ large on the provision”.
Krishna Kumar Singh v. State of Bihar, (2017) 3 SCC 1
Stating that re-promulgation of ordinances is a fraud on the Constitution and a subversion of democratic legislative processes, the 7 Judge Bench held that the Ordinance making power does not constitute the President or the Governor into a parallel source of law making or an independent legislative authority Justice Chandrachud writing down the majority judgment for himself and S.A. Bobde, A.K. Goel, U.U. Lalit and L. Nageswara Rao, JJ., laid down the principles for promulgation of ordinances.
Common Cause v. Union of India,(2018) 5 SCC 1
The 5-judge Constitution Bench of Dipak Misra, CJ., and AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, JJ., held that the right to die with dignity is a fundamental right as held in Gian Kaur v. State of Punjab, (1996) 2 SCC 648 and that ‘passive euthanasia’, both, voluntary and involuntary, is permissible. In his concurring opinion, Dr. Chandrachud, J., observed that,
“While upholding the legality of passive euthanasia (voluntary and non-voluntary) and in recognising the importance of advance directives, the present judgment draws sustenance from the constitutional values of liberty, dignity, autonomy and privacy. In order to lend assurance to a decision taken by the treating doctor in good faith, this judgment has mandated the setting up of committees to exercise a supervisory role and function”.
Shafin Jahan v. Asokan K.M, (2018) 16 SCC 368
The 3-judge bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and AM Khanwilkar and Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, JJ., terming the instant case to be perfect example of, “patriarchal autocracy and possibly self-obsession with the feeling that a female is a chattel”, set aside the verdict of Kerala High Court wherein it had annulled the marriage between two consenting adults, namely, Hadiya and Shafin Jahan. Noting that the Kerala HC erred in its decision, Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, J., in his concurring opinion, came down heavily upon the Kerala HC, stating that,
“The schism between Hadiya and her father may be unfortunate. But it was no part of the jurisdiction of the High Court to decide what it considered to be a “just” way of life or “correct” course of living for Hadiya. She has absolute autonomy over her person. There was no warrant for the High Court to proceed further in the exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 226. The High Court has entered into a domain which is alien to its jurisdiction in a habeas corpus petition. How Hadiya chooses to lead her life is entirely a matter of her choice”.
Beghar Foundation v. K.S. Puttaswamy (Aadhaar Review-5 J.), (2021) 3 SCC 1
Seeking a review of the decision delivered by the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India (Aadhaar-5 Judge), (2019) 1 SCC 1, the 5 Judge Bench of the Court comprising of A.M. Khanwilkar, Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan, S. Abdul Nazeer and B.R. Gavai, JJ., with a ratio of 4:1 dismissed this petition, while observing that, change in the law or subsequent decision/judgment of a coordinate or larger Bench by itself cannot be regarded as a ground for review.
However, Justice Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud gave his dissenting opinion on the issue and observed that constitutional principles of consistency and rule of law would require that a decision on the Review Petitions should await the reference to the Larger Bench.
“It is important to draw a distinction with a situation where a judgment attains finality and the view propounded by it is disapproved by a larger bench subsequently”.
K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India (Aadhaar-5 Judge),(2019) 1 SCC 1
The 5- Judge Bench comprising of CJ Dipak Misra and A.K. Sikri, A.M. Khanwilkar, Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, JJ., by a majority of 4:1, upheld the constitutional validity of Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016. Justice Chandrachud gave a 23-point conclusion to the opinion wherein he dissented from the majority. In his opinion, the entire Aadhaar programme, since 2009, suffers from the constitutional infirmities and violations of fundamental rights-
“Creating strong privacy protection laws and instilling safeguards may address or at the very least assuage some of the concerns associated with the Aadhar scheme which severely impairs informational self-determination, individual privacy, dignity and autonomy”.
In a sharp criticism on passing of the Aaadhar Act as Money Bill within the meaning of Art.110 of the Constitution, Dr. Chandrachud, J., observed that-
“There is a constitutional trust which attaches to the empowerment of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha to decide whether a legislative measure is a Money Bill. Entrustment of the authority to decide is founded on the expectation that the Speaker of the Lok Sabha will not dilute the existence of a coordinate institution in a bicameral legislature. A constitutional trust has been vested in the office of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha. By declaring an ordinary Bill to be a Money Bill, the Speaker limits the role of the Rajya Sabha. This power cannot be unbridled or bereft of judicial scrutiny”.
Jindal Stainless Ltd v. State of Haryana,(2017) 12 SCC 1
The 9-judge bench, by a ratio of 7:2, upheld the validity of the entry tax imposed by the States on goods imported from other States. It was held that taxes simpliciter are not within the contemplation of Part XIII of the Constitution of India and that the word ‘Free’ used in Article 301 does not mean “free from taxation”. Delivering a dissenting opinion Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, J., observed that,
“In order to determine whether a law providing for the imposition of a tax constitutes a restriction on the freedom of trade, commerce and intercourse, the principle that must be applied is whether the direct and inevitable effect or consequence of the law is to impede trade and commerce. The direct and inevitable consequence for the purposes of Part XIII of the Constitution is not the same as an infringement of the fundamental right to carry on an occupation, trade or business under Article 19(1)(g)”. He further observed that, “Article 301 sub-serves the constitutional goal of integrating the nation into an economic entity comprising of a common market for goods and services”.
Abhiram Singh v. C.D. Commachen, (2017) 2 SCC 629
In a 4:3 verdict, the 7-Judge Bench held that an appeal in the name of religion, race, caste, community or language is impermissible under the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and would constitute a corrupt practice sufficient to annul the election in which such an appeal was made regardless whether the appeal was in the name of the candidate’s religion or the religion of the election agent or that of the opponent or that of the voters’. Writing the dissenting opinion for himself and Adarsh K. Goel and U.U. Lalit, JJ.; Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, J., observed that ‘his’ as in Section 123(3) of RP Act does not refer to the religion, race, caste, community or language of the voter. Dr. Chandrachud, J., made a very significant observation in his dissent-
“Our Constitution recognises the broad diversity of India and, as a political document, seeks to foster a sense of inclusion. It seeks to wield a nation where its citizens practise different religions, speak varieties of languages, belong to various castes and are of different communities into the concept of one nationhood. The Indian State has no religion nor does the Constitution recognise any religion as a religion of the State. India is not a theocratic State but a secular nation in which there is a respect for and acceptance of the equality between religions”.
Romila Thapar v. Union of India, (2018) 10 SCC 753
In the instant case wherein 5 human rights activists were charged and arrested under the provisions of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 and the 3 Judge Bench of the Court with a ratio of 2:1 (Dipak Misra CJ., and A.M. Khanwilkar, J.) rejected their prayer seeking appointment of SIT and court-monitored investigation; Justice D.Y. Chandrachud dissented with the majority. He observed that, “Dissent is a symbol of a vibrant democracy. Voices in opposition cannot be muzzled by persecuting those who take up unpopular causes”. Taking the view that a Special Investigating Team should be appointed to pursue the matter, Dr. Chandrachud, J., stated that,
“The purpose of the direction which I propose to give is to ensure that the basic entitlement of every citizen who is faced with allegations of criminal wrongdoing, is that the investigative process should be fair. This is an integral component of the guarantee against arbitrariness under Article 14 and of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21. If this Court were not to stand by the principles which we have formulated, we may witness a soulful requiem to liberty”.