The Verdictum: Justice (Retd.) PC Ghose

Aditya AK June 30 2017
lokpal

Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose was elevated to the Supreme Court on March 8, 2013. After a tenure of more than four years, or 1,541 days to be precise, Justice Ghose was the latest apex court to retire, attaining superannuation on May 27 this year.

Justice Ghose enrolled at the Bar in 1976. Born to Justice SC Ghose, former Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court, he went on to practise on both the original as well as the appellate side at the High Court.

He made the switch to the Bench in 1997, when he was elevated as a judge of the Calcutta High Court. He was then transferred to the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad, where he became the Chief Justice in December 2012.

During his retirement ceremony, members of both the Bar and the Bench reminisced some of his noteworthy judgments including the Jallikattu judgment, orders in Bar Council election matter and the judgment in Jayalalithaa DA case.

Month-wise distribution of rulings

During his tenure at the apex court, Justice Ghose was involved in a total of 190 reported orders and judgments. He authored 85 of these.

Justice Ghose’s most productive months were April and July, during which he made 36 and 31 rulings respectively. His least productive months were January and August, during which he made a mere 5 rulings, and November, during which he made only 6 rulings.

Day-wise productivity

Justice Ghose’s daily productivity fluctuated from as few as 0.04 rulings per day in January to 0.25 rulings per day in July.

Year-wise distribution of rulings

Justice Ghose’s most productive year was 2015, during which he made 68 rulings. His least productive year was his penultimate year at the apex court, 2016, during which he made a mere 22 rulings. To put that in perspective, he managed just three fewer rulings in 2017 even though he was in office only for half the year.

Year No. of Rulings
2013 26
2014 55
2015 68
2016 22
2017 19

Bench-wise distribution of rulings

Justice Ghose sat on Division Benches with 17 different apex court judges. He sat 30 times with Justice UU Lalit, 25 times with Justice MY Eqbal, and 24 times with Justice RK Agrawal. He was part of a three-judge Bench 6 times and part of a five-judge Constitution Bench 3 times.

Case-type distribution of rulings

At the apex court, Justice Ghose established himself as a specialist in Criminal Law. This translated into his being given criminal rosters quite often, which in turn meant that he was involved in 104 rulings relating to criminal appeals. By comparison, he was involved in 72 orders and judgments relating to civil appeals. He also passed rulings while sitting on Benches that heard 6 civil writ petitions and 1 Special Reference.

Notable judgments

As mentioned above, Justice Ghose will probably be best remembered for his judgment in the Jayalalithaa disproportionate assets case. The judgment, which was passed after the death of the former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, restored the trial court verdict in toto.

Along with Justice KS Radhakrishnan, he ruled that the practices of Jallikattu and bullock cart races to be violative of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

He was part of the 3:2 majority along with then CJI HL Dattu and Justice FMI Kalifulla that held that the state government has no suo motu power to remit sentences of persons who were convicted under a central law in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

Justice Ghose also ruled on cases involving political leaders. He was part of the Constitution Bench that restored status quo in Arunachal Pradesh after President’s Rule was imposed in the state last year.

Along with Justice RF Nariman, he directed the trial court to frame charges of criminal conspiracy against BJP leaders LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti, Kalyan Singh and others involved in the Babri Masjid demolition case.

He was also part of the Bench that laid down guidelines for publication of government advertisements.