In his interview to TOI, the CJI called himself an “accidental lawyer” who became “enamoured with law” while contemplating civil services after topping economics from St Stephen’s. On his father’s advice, he joined Campus Law Centre at DU for a three-year LLB course. And as luck would have it, the young graduate went on to follow in his father’s footsteps, right to the top.
His father Yeshwant Vishnu Chandrachud was sworn in as CJI on February 28, 1978 and retired on July 11, 1985, holding a record tenure of seven years, four months and 19 days.
In the presence of Speaker Om Birla, Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Amit Shah, Piyush Goel and Kiren Rijiju, Supreme Court judges, law officers and his family members, Justice DY Chandrachud swore to “bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established and uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India” to perform duties of CJI’s office that “duly and faithfully and to the best of (his) ability, knowledge and judgment… without fear or favour, affection or ill-will” and to “uphold the Constitution and the laws”. PM Narendra Modi was conspicuous by his absence at the swearing-in ceremony.
At the SC, where he was appointed as a judge on May 13, 2016, CJI Chandrachud garlanded the Mahatma Gandhi statue gifted to the court by late LM Singhvi and installed in front of the CJI’s courtroom. On his first day in SC as CJI, he was accompanied by his wife Kalpana Das. Justice Chandrachud will celebrate his 63rd birthday on November 11 and will have a tenure of two years and two days as CJI before retiring on November 10, 2024.
He began his judicial work at 12.15pm, against the scheduled 10.30am, and started with an apology for keeping lawyers waiting in his court. Importantly, he promised to make his courtroom and other courts in the SC “no-stress courts”, indicating that senior as well as junior lawyers would get patient and adequate hearing from the judges without sharp critical comments, often made in the past by judges while dealing with socio-political issues.
After an LLB degree from Campus Law Centre, Justice Chandrachud did LLM and was awarded Doctorate in Juridical Sciences (SJD) from Harvard Law School, USA. He started his practice at Bombay high court and Supreme Court. He was designated a senior advocate in June 1998.
He was appointed additional solicitor general of India and continued as such till his appointment as a judge of the Bombay high court on March 29, 2000. He became Chief Justice of Allahabad HC on October 31, 2013 and served in that post till his appointment to the SC as a judge.
His two sons Abhinav and Chintan are lawyers. Abhinav practices in Bombay HC and has authored many books, including one on the SC judges of the past. Chintan is a barrister at Brick Court Chambers, London, and focuses on commercial and public law. CJI Chandrachud and wife Kalpana are foster parents to two special children.