Justice Y V Chandrachud: Former Chief Justice of India

Yeshwant Vishnu Chandrachud was appointed as the 16th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court where he served from 22 February 1978 to the day he retired on 11 July 1985. He was appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court on 28 August 1972. He was the first appointed judge of the supreme court and is the longest-serving Chief Justice in Indian judicial history till dat. He served 7 years and 4 months in the office (of chief justice). His has been given nickname as "Iron Hands" after his well-regarded unwillingness to let anything slip past him.

Personal Details

In Pune, British India, on July 12, 1920, Y. V. Chandrachud was born into a prominent Deshastha Rigvedi Brahmin family (now part of Maharashtra, India). Chandrachud received his education at the ILS Law College in Pune, Economics and History from Elphinstone College Bombay, and Nutan Marathi Vidyalaya secondary school. In addition, he graduated from Bombay University’s LLM programme among the first. On July 14, 2008, not long after being admitted to the Bombay Hospital, Justice Y.V. Chandrachud passed away. His wife Prabha, son Dhananjaya Y. Chandrachud, who is currently India’s Chief Justice, and daughter Nirmala are left to carry on his legacy. Chintan Chandrachud, a legal scholar and author, and Abhinav Chandrachud, a lawyer in the Bombay High Court, are his grandsons.

Official Details

Yeshwant Vishnu Chandrachud, who presided as the CJI from 22nd February 1978 to 1985, was the 16th Chief Justice of India to hold the position following Independence.

He was admitted as an advocate to the High Court of Bombay in the year 1943. Dynamic Yeshwant Chandrachud worked as a part-time professor of law at the Government Law College in Bombay from 1949 to 1952. He was promoted to the position of Judge at the Bombay High Court in the year 1961, and in the year 1972, he was appointed to a seat as a judicial chief in the Supreme Court of one of the largest democracies in the world. His appointment as the Chief Justice of India in 1978 opened new doors for him.

While the Janta Government was in power, Justice Chandrachud took the oath of office. He turned out to be a vocal critic of the government when Indira Gandhi took office. The entire legal system was under pressure to comply, but the ruling party focused its attack on the pater families, according to an excerpt from one of the best-known texts on judicial law.

The article claims that, in contrast to Justice Bhagwati, who was branded a Congress (I) man for his laudatory letter to Mrs Gandhi, the New CJI Chandrachud was an iron fist and did not allow anything to go through the cracks. The Janata government’s appointment of Chief Justice of India (CJI) Chandrachud to the Supreme Court of India called for a disqualification in and of itself under the new system. Chandrachud’s imprisonment of Sanjay in 1978 as well as his subsequent about-face during the Janata government did not endear him to the Gandhis.

A motion of impeachment by Parliament is reported to have been suggested by Ashoke Sen, a Congress (I) MP and president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, in 1981, when politics were at their hottest. Yashwant, who is fearless like his name suggests, called for the unity of the bar and the bench and defended the judiciary against executive intervention. As a group, we could “only combat the provocation and attack on the judges” if we were together (As per Bhagwan D. Dua, A Study in Executive-Judicial Conflict: The Indian) In the Kissa Kursi Ka case, when Sanjay Gandhi was sentenced to 30 days in judicial detention, CJI Chandrachud rendered one of his most illustrious rulings. He wrote 338 judgements altogether throughout his time as a judge. He wrote the most court decisions in 1977.

The 1976 judgement was overturned and declared to be “seriously defective,” and privacy is now a basic right. A Constitution Bench of nine judges, led by Justice Chandrachud, issued the directive.

Fact Detail
NameYeshwant Vishnu Chandrachud
Date of Birth12 July 1920, Poona
Alma MaterILS Law College
Official Tenure22 February 1978 – 11 July 1985
PresidentNeelam Sanjiva Reddy
Preceded byMirza Hameedullah Beg
Succeeded byP. N. Bhagwati
As JudgeChief Justice of India

Major judgements

Major judgements that he delivered are −

  • Minerva Mills Ltd. V Union of India (1980) − The Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act of 1976 was the subject of a significant ruling by the CJI and a five-judge bench in this case. In accordance with Article 368 of the Constitution, CJI Chandrachud ruled that Parliament cannot use its amending authority to grant itself the right to abolish or abrogate the Constitution or to obliterate its fundamental provisions.

  • Mohd. Ahmed Khan. V Shah Bano Begum (1985) − where a five-judge bench is present Chandrachud's bench made decisions regarding the maintenance and rights of divorced Muslim women. The Bench then implemented Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code to preserve close relatives who are indigent for everyone, regardless of faith Shah Bano is a judgement because the Rajiv Gandhi administration's passage of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 as a result of the case, weakened the Supreme Court's ruling.

  • A.D.M. Jabalpur v Shivakant Shukla (1976) ‘Habeas Corpus case’ − where a five-judge panel ruled that an emergency might allow the Indian Constitution's right to life to be suspended.

  • Gurbaksh Singh Sibia v State of Punjab (1980) − A five-judge panel hearing case involving anticipatory bail was again presented with this issue. The CJI Chandrachud ruled that rules pertaining to anticipatory bail must be interpreted in the context of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution and that courts have the discretion to decide whether or not to place limitations on the granting of bail on an individual basis.

  • Olga Tellis v Bombay Municipal Corporation (1985) − In the case at hand, the CJI stated that the Bench had determined that the Right to Life also includes the Right to a Living. The Chandrachud-led bench in this case broadened the parameters of the Indian Constitution's Right to Life.

NOTE − In a recent privacy decision, K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India, [(2017) 10 SCC 1], his son, Hon'ble Dr Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, saw an opportunity to right a historical injustice and declared the ADM Jabalpur decision to be fundamentally flawed and overturned it.


Q1. Who had appointed Y V Chandrachud as the chief justice of India?

Ans. Former President Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, appointed Y V Chandrachud as the chief justice of India.

Q2. How many courts justice Y V Chandrachud served before being appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court of India?

Ans. None.

Y V Chandrachud was the first lawyer, who directly appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court of India in 1972.

Updated on: 09-Feb-2023


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