Chief Justice for 13 days: An overview of Justice Sanjay Yadav's tenure, the shortest at the Allahabad High Court

The thirteen-day tenure of Justice Yadav as Chief Justice is the shortest ever in the history of the Allahabad High Court.
Tenures of Allahabad High Court Chief Justices
Tenures of Allahabad High Court Chief Justices

Chief Justice Sanjay Yadav demitted office on Friday after what was the shortest tenure at the helm of the Allahabad High Court.

He served as Chief Justice for just thirteen days, after being appointed on June 13.

Justice Yadav enrolled as an advocate on August 25, 1986 and practiced before the Madhya Pradesh High Court. In 2007, he was elevated as a judge of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, where he also served as Acting Chief Justice.

This year, he was transferred to the Allahabad High Court, where he performed the duties of Acting Chief Justice. On June 13, he was appointed as the Chief Justice.

Here is an overview of the developments that took place during his short tenure as Chief Justice.

Suo motu COVID-19 proceedings

On June 5, the COVID-19 matter that was earlier taken up by the High Court suo motu, was listed before the Chief Justice’s Court. Previously, a Division bench of Justices Ajit Kumar and Siddhartha Varma was hearing the matter. This Bench had described the situation of the healthcare system in rural areas of Uttar Pradesh as being "Ram Bharose".

When the matter was taken up by CJ Yadav on June 17, the Court expressed its displeasure over people roaming around on streets without wearing masks or adhering to COVID-19 protocol.

"Go to the bazaar and see how many of them are roaming without masks, just take a look, it is the duty of the citizens also," the Court remarked.

The Court was also sympathetic towards police personnel, saying that if they take action against people violating COVID-19 norms, they are criticised on social media.

The government was directed to file an affidavit apprising the Court of the status of the pandemic, as well the future plans to tackle the pandemic. CJ Yadav had further directed,

"We need to know about the steps you have taken to upgrade the primary and secondary health centers, in respect of infrastructure."

Dignified burial of unidentified bodies near Ganga

A Bench headed by CJ Yadav dismissed a petition seeking directions from the Court on dignified disposal of dead bodies near the Ganga river. While doing so, the Court held that the petitioner has no knowledge about the rituals of the people living on the banks of the Ganga.

"If there is a death in the family, is it State's responsibility?" the Court added.

Justice Yadav came down heavily on the petitioner and asked him about his personal contribution to the cause.

“We won't allow such types of petitions, merely for the sake of it. Please show some contribution otherwise we may impose a heavy cost because these are not public interest litigation, but publicity interest litigation. What is your personal contribution to the cause you are raising, tell us if you dug out and cremated bodies?” the Bench demanded.

Also Read
"If there is a death in family, is it State's responsibility?" Allahabad High Court rejects plea to dispose dead bodies lying on banks of Ganga

Vikas Dubey Encounter case

Gangster Vikas Dubey
Gangster Vikas Dubey

The High Court dismissed a plea seeking a direction to the Uttar Pradesh government to take action on the Special Investigation Team (SIT) report in the Vikas Dubey encounter case. The Bench headed by CJ Yadav also imposed costs of Rs 25,000 on the petitioner and said that “personal grudges cannot be settled by using public interest litigation."

"Evidently the petition is nomenclatured as Public Interest Litigation. However, on going through entire pleadings it appears that the petitioner has approached this Court to have his personal grievance redressed through a mode of public interest litigation. Personal grudge has to be settled in accordance with law before appropriate forum and not through a litigation depicting to be a public interest," the Court said.

Petitions challenging validity of anti-conversion law

CJ Yadav also heard a batch of petitions challenging the validity of the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020.

Justice Yadav said that he will not entertain the petitions since the ordinance under challenge had already become law. The Bench, however, issued notice on a petition filed by Association for Advocacy and Legal Initiatives (AALI) which has challenged the Act. The Court granted four weeks' time to file rejoinder and counters.

Also Read
Petitions before Allahabad High Court challenging UP anti-conversion ordinance withdrawn; notice issued on one petition challenging Act

Earlier, when the matter was placed before Justice Govind Mathur (former Chief Justice, Allahabad High Court) State had filed the counter and rejoinders were filed in the matter. When the matter came up in June, Chief Justice Sanjay Yadav refused to allow an amendment application and said that they have the liberty to file a fresh one or ‘it would be dismissed as infructuous.'

Shortest tenure as Chief Justice in the history of the Allahabad High Court

The thirteen-day tenure of Justice Yadav as Chief Justice is the shortest ever in the history of the Allahabad High Court.

To put that in context, the first Chief Justice Sir Walter Morgan held office from 1866 to 1871 (5 years). Justice Yadav's predecessor, Justice Govind Mathur spent around two and a half years in office, from 2018 to April 2021.

Tenures of Allahabad High Court Chief Justices
Tenures of Allahabad High Court Chief Justices

As per data available on the Allahabad High Court website, in this span of thirteen days, Chief Justice Sanjay Yadav delivered orders/judgments in 430 cases, out of which there were 57 Public Interest Litigation (PIL).

During his farewell ceremony organized by the Allahabad High Court today, Justice Yadav appreciated the cooperation of the judges and staff members of the Court.

Having cherished the fullest cooperation of my sister and brother judges and during this short tenure at the Allahabad High Court I received all support, with a sense of gratitude..
CJ Yadav

As the dust settles on the tenure of CJ Yadav, Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari, the senior-most judge of the Allahabad High Court, will take over as acting Chief Justice. The appointment was notified by the Union Ministry of Law and Justice on June 22.

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