Justice Dipak Misra succeeded Justice J S Khehar on Monday to become the 45th Chief Justice of India, and the first to have Z-category security cover. He will have a tenure of a little over a year, and retire on October 2 next year.
On July 30, 2015, in a predawn hearing, a Justice Misra-headed bench had rejected 1993 Mumbai serial blasts convict Yakub Memon’s last-gasp plea for the commutation of his death penalty. Shortly thereafter, an anonymous threat letter was thrown into Misra’s official residence, necessitating ‘Z’-category security.
The cover remains in place, and he is the only SC judge to use a bullet-proof Ambassador car with a police escort. Soft-spoken, Misra sports a smile that disarms the most cantankerous litigant.
Benches headed by him have upheld the constitutional validity of Section 499 and 500 of the IPC, providing for criminal defamation proceedings, and also death penalty for convicts in the Nirbhaya case.
As chairman of National Legal Services Authority, he displayed concern for poor prisoners by introducing several measures to provide them with free legal aid. Recently, he had ordered the introduction of video conferencing at state legal services authorities to connect them to jails to provide free legal aid to poor prisoners.