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President Pranab Mukherjee has administered the oath of office on Justice Handyala Lakshminarayanaswamy Dattu as the Chief Justice of India. 63-year-old Justice Dattu took oath at a brief ceremony held at the chandeliered Durbar Hall of the Rashtrapati Bhawan. Prominent figures like Vice President Hamid Ansari, Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P J Kurien, Union ministers Rajnath Singh, M Venkaiah Naidu and BJP veteran L K Advani were among those present at the ceremony.
He succeeds CJI R M Lodha and will be at the helm of Indian judiciary till December 2, 2015.He will have tenure of little over one year before he retires on 2 December, 2015.
He enrolled as an advocate in 1975 and began his law practice in Bangalore where he dealt with all types of matters — civil, criminal, tax and Constitutional cases. He started appearing before the Karnataka High Court in myriad capacities like a government pleader for sales tax department, standing counsel for Income Tax department and later as government advocate 1983 onwards. Justice Dattu was elevated to the stature of judge of the Karnataka High Court in 1995 after he had been a standing counsel for I-T department.
Later, he was further raised to serve as the Chief Justice of the Chhattisgarh High Court in February 2007 and shortly afterwards shifted in the same capacity to the Kerala High Court. He began his innings as a judge in Supreme Court in December 2008. Justice Dattu has headed some very critical panels like the one monitoring investigations into 2G spectrum scam.
SC in a landmark judgement has cancelled 214 coal blocks issued since 1993 to bring in more transparency in the system. The apex court has granted a 6-month window to companies involved in the businesses to wind up their operations. In addition the companies will be required to pay Rs. 295 per tonne of coal they extract and the also for the one which has been already extracted. The verdict has been based on the irregularities with the set procedure which is to be followed in case of auctions. The court has mentioned that the whole process of allocations has been mired in serious corrupt practices as it suffers from the vice of arbitrariness and glaring legal flaws. The bench headed by CJI RM Lodha stated that, “the Screening Committee has never been consistent, it has not been transparent, there is no proper application of mind, it has acted on no material in many cases, relevant factors have seldom been its guiding factors, there was no transparency and guidelines have seldom guided it.”
The Indian industry has however not taken the decision in the right light and has warned with serious implications for Indian economy which operates on coal. It has expressed concerns about the accentuation of the power crisis and the economic slowdown. The dependence on outside coal will increase. The investments in the sector will be badly affected and the key sectors of power, steel and mining will also bear the brunt.
Despite the drastic responses from the industry the judgement has paved way for the next level of reforms and for inviting more private investments and entry of foreign players. It gives a bright opportunity for government to develop a more competitive market.