After nearly one-and-a-half years as the country’s top judge, Chief Justice S.A. Bobde stepped down on Friday, April 23. He served on the Supreme Court for seven years and 84 days. During CJI Bobde’s rule, courts across India were forced to close due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and most deliberations were conducted online.
Some of his most important judgments are as follows:
A ban on fireworks
The selling of firecrackers in the National Capital Region has been prohibited every year in recent years. A ban on the sale and use of firecrackers was also imposed by the court last year due to pollution concerns.
In 2016, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, consisting of then-Chief Justice T.S. Thakur, Justices A.K. Sikri and Bobde, issued a judgement prohibiting the selling of fireworks in the National Capital Region. It was the first time a ban on the selling of fireworks has been enacted.
Laws governing agriculture
Another big decision made by CJI Bobde was the Supreme Court’s 18-month suspension of the government’s hastily enacted farm laws. In January of this year, the Supreme Court stayed the enforcement of three farm laws that had enraged farmers and resulted in protests. The establishment of a four-member expert committee to look into the matter was ordered by a three-judge bench headed by CJI Bobde and comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian. Later, one of the committee members wept. The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, and the Farmers (Empowerment) Act are the three contentious rules.
The land dispute between Ram Janmabhoomi and the Babri Masjid
On November 9, 2019, Justice Bobde was part of a five-judge Constitution Bench that issued a majority decision, effectively ending a long, politically charged, and contentious legal battle.
This case, which is also India’s most contentious land dispute, had been pending in the courts since 1950 and had been the subject of many acrimonious debates and speculation. According to tax records, the land belonged to the government, according to the bench headed by former CJI Ranjan Gogoi (with Justices D.Y. Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan, and Abdul Nazeer). It was ordered that the land be given to a trust for the construction of a Hindu temple and that the Sunni Waqf Board be given an alternative five acres for the construction of a mosque.
Great Bustard of India
The Supreme Court ordered the governments of Rajasthan and Gujarat to replace overhead power cables with underground ones in order to save the critically endangered Great Indian Bustard.
Hearing a petition regarding the deaths of a large number of Great Indian Bustards due to collisions with high-voltage power lines, the bench headed by Chief Justice Bobde said that all precautions should be taken to prevent the birds from being electrocuted in their natural habitats in Gujarat and Rajasthan.