NEW DELHI: Son of the 16th Chief Justice of India YV Chandrachud, Dhananjay Yeshwant Chandrachud was born on November 11, 1959. His mother, Prabha Chandrachud, was a singer for All India Radio.
India’s 50th CJI moved to Delhi at the age of 12 when his father assumed the CJI’s office, and graduated from St. Stephen’s College in Delhi with a degree in economics and mathematics in 1979. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Law from the Faculty of Law at Delhi University in 1982.
He compounded his legal education with an LL.M from Harvard University in 1983 after obtaining the Inlaks Scholarship, and received the Joseph H Beale prize for securing the highest marks in the ‘Conflict of Laws’ course.
He stayed at Harvard until 1986 to complete his Doctorate in Juridical Sciences. On completing his studies, he enrolled as himself as an advocate with the Bar Council of Maharashtra.
CJI Chandrachud’s focus on social causes stems from his days as an advocate. In 1997, he represented a labourer who was denied further employment by the public corporation he worked for after he contracted HIV-AIDS.
The Bombay HC held that merely contracting HIV-AIDS was not a ground for violating the labourer’s Right to Livelihood as he was still medically fit to perform his job.
He also appeared in cases involving the rights of bonded women labourers, and religious and linguistic minorities While practicing as an advocate, CJI Chandrachud remained involved in legal academics by taking a position as a Visiting Professor of Comparative Constitutional Law at the University of Bombay between 1988 and 1997.
The year 1998 was significant for him because he was designated as a Senior Advocate in June despite being only 38 years old – this designation is rarely given to advocates below the age of 40.
Further, he was appointed as an Additional Solicitor General of India, a position he held until his elevation as a Judge of the Bombay HC on March 29th, 2000. After over a decade at the Bombay HC, he was appointed as the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court on October 31, 2013.
He was elevated as a Supreme Court Judge on May 13, 2016 and became the 50th Chief Justice of India on November 9 this year, following CJI UU Lalit’s retirement.
Known for penning landmark judgments in many important cases, including the Ayodhya land title dispute case and the right to privacy case, his tenure as the head of the Indian judiciary will be eagerly watched.