India's Next Chief Justice UU Lalit Explains His Agenda For 74-Day Term

Justice UU Lalit will take over from Justice NV Ramana on August 27.

Justice UU Lalit will take over as Chief Justice of India on August 27.

New Delhi:

Justice Uday Umesh Lalit, who will succeed NV Ramana as the Chief Justice of India, told NDTV in an exclusive interview today that his focus will be on the administrative side, to get "maximum output through the limited resources".

This, he indicated, can be done by clubbing cases and listing matters that can be representative in other cases -- "which are capable of disposing of many pending matters in the lower authorities" he said.

Giving an example, he said, if there is an issue on income tax matters which the top court is considering -- an issue that can recur repeatedly, "then the sooner you dispose of the matter, the better, because the pending matters in high court will also be disposed of then".

"The second part is that the function of the Supreme Court is to lay down law, to interpret constitution. So as and when such occasions come, the matters be listed as early as possible before the appropriate (bench) strength to see that the output is maximised. That essentially is the function of the Chief Justice," he added.

Asked about the ongoing debate on the Chief Justice as the master of the roster, Justice Lalit said while there is a broad outline about the Chief Justice fixing the roster, individual cases can be done on an objective basis. The Chief Justice can focus on fixing benches, forming constitution benches and listing relevant matters before them.

Justice Lalit, who takes over from Justice Ramana as he retires on August 27, will have a 74-day tenure. In earlier interviews, he had indicated that he would prefer to put in healthy practices in court, taking everyone on board.

Given the pendency of cases, Justice Lalit, however, said he was not in favour of increasing the retirement age of judges. The pressure of work, he said, ends up taking a toll on health.

"We have a clinic in the Supreme Court which is under the supervision of a lady doctor, Shayma Gupta. She has been there for more than 20 years and has seen many judges come and go. She says if the health condition of a judge to begin with was at x level, he walks out with x+y+z ailments. That speaks volumes of what a judge works under. Almost everybody has some kind of physical ailments or the other. We call them occupational hazards," he said.

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