Justice PN Bhagwati, former chief justice of India, dies at 95
Former chief justice of India PN Bhagwati passed away on 15 June in the national capital. He was 95. Bhagwati, who was India’s chief justice from July 1985 to December 1986, is widely credited with introducing public interest litigation (PIL) along with his brother, Justice VR Krishna Iyer. He was a judge of the Gujarat high court for 13 years and served as chief justice of the high court from 1967 to 1973. Subsequently, he was elevated to the apex court. After his retirement, Bhagwati held several key offices on judicial reforms and legal aid in Gujarat. Apart from pioneering PILs, Bhagwati is remembered for several important rulings on issues related to fundamental rights. In the Maneka Gandhi passport impounding case in 1978, Bhagwati dealt extensively with the right to life, holding that a person’s movement cannot be restricted without due process by the state. His ruling in the Menaka Gandhi case was a departure from his views in the ADM Jabalpur versus Shivkant Shukla case, popularly known as the Habeas Corpus case, in which Bhagwati concurred with the majority view that a person’s right to not be unlawfully detained can be suspended by the state during emergency. “The demise of Justice PN Bhagwati is saddening. He was a stalwart of India’s legal fraternity. My deepest condolences. Justice PN Bhagwati’s remarkable contributions made our judicial system more accessible and gave voice to millions,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter. Justice Bhagwati was the chairman of Voice Society’s ombudsman committee. He is survived by his wife and three daughters.