Justice Dipak Misra will become the next Chief Justice of India, taking over from incumbent Justice JS Khehar who demits office on August 27. The soft-spoken, erudite judge will be the 45th CJI of the country and will hold office till October 2, 2018. The law ministry on 08 August 2017 notified his appointment as the next Chief Justice of India. Before he was elevated to the top court, Justice Misra showed a quiet confidence, which was to become his hallmark.
As the chief justice of the Delhi High Court, he had the court up and running within hours of a blast ripping through it. Several people died in the blast, but he refused to be fazed by the blast. “We cannot be seen as cowing down before terrorists,” he had said then, while personally ensuring that the institution was back on its feet.
He showed the same grit and commitment to constitutional values when he got the central government to revoke president’s rule in Uttarakhand. His insistence that governments stick to constitutional values as expected to in the highest standards of democracy, has had many high functionaries squirming. A liberal freethinker, Justice Misra advocates freedom for women, including the freedom to dance in dance bars, but is queasy about money being thrown at the dancers.
Even the most churlish lawyer concedes that Justice Misra knows his literature, philosophy and history. His tales in the court from the Shastras are legendary. Justice Misra’s grandfather was one of the great men who prevented Odia from being swallowed up by Bengali as a language. He belongs to the first judicial family of Odisha. Ranganath Misra, the first CJI from the state, was his uncle. His detractors cite his recent rulings on Gandhi and the freedom to lampoon as chinks in his liberal armour. He was very critical of a Marathi poet who wrote a hard-hitting poem in which he lampooned the average Indian for wallowing in his weaknesses rather than find the Gandhi in him.