From a character in a mainstream film to an activist who was let down by the justice system, the previous year saw some interesting personalities make headlines in the legal arena..Here is a list of Bar & Bench's newsmakers for 2021 who were in limelight for good and bad..Justice K Chandru.Why: Former judge of the Madras High Court, Justice K Chandru was the central character of Jai Bhim, a film based on a real-life case that he was involved in. The character of the activist-turned-lawyer-turned-judge was played by actor Suriya in the film, and received widespread acclaim and even stirred a few controversies.Set in the 90s, Jai Bhim depicts the struggle of a woman in her quest to get justice for the custodial death of her husband in the face of caste oppression. The film shows how Chandru helped the woman in her Habeas Corpus petition before the Madras High Court and the efforts he made to bring the guilty to book. In an interview with Bar & Bench, the real-life Justice Chandru lauded the film for its “realistic portrayal of High Court proceedings,” sans any “flashy dialogues, angry outbursts or disproportionate repartees.”.Why: The 48th Chief Justice of India started his tenure on a positive note, playing an instrumental role in the appointment of nine top court judges, including three women judges in one go, taking the total number of sitting woman judges in the top court to 4, a first in the Supreme Court's history.His tenure has seen a marked departure from that of his predecessors as the judge frequently spoke about civil rights, press freedom and outdated laws.However, though the CJI has been vocal about such issues while making speeches at public events or as oral remarks during courts hearings, critics have claimed that there have been no judicial orders from him.It has also been pointed out that important cases related to Article 370 and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) remain to be taken up.He had also made the observations on Section 124A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code and how it is irrelevant in the present era. However, that case too awaits to be listed for a detailed hearing.Read more about CJI Ramana's tenure here.Why: The inhuman killing of a pet dog, Bruno led to the Kerala High Court initiating a suo motu case named “In Re: Bruno (Suo Moto Public Interest Litigation Proceedings initiated by the High Court in the matter of executive and legislative inaction of the State Government in the matter of Protection of Animal Rights)” to address the issue of animal welfare in the State. This led to the passing of several orders, most notably holding that clauses in bye-laws or agreements of residential societies that absolutely prohibit persons from keeping a pet of their choice in their houses/flats where they reside should be treated as void, unconstitutional and unenforceable in law. The State was also directed to hold awareness campaigns to "infuse a culture within our state, which will satisfy the constitutional obligation of showing compassion to animals.".Why: Justice Sanjib Banerjee was at the centre of controversy this year due to his untimely transfer from the larger, well-established Madras High Court to the Meghalaya High Court. The judge’s transfer was recommended by the Supreme Court Collegium on September 16 and notified by the Central government on November 15.This transfer saw widespread protests by lawyers and activists across the country who sought its recall stating that the absence of a justification for the move pointed to the inference that the judge was being punished for some reason. However, the protests fell on deaf ears as neither the Collegium, nor the Central government reconsidered or justified the decision.Justice Banerjee bid adieu to the Madras High Court on November 17 with an emotional letter, while opting out of an official farewell ceremony. He apologised to his fellow judges for being unable to last the distance and leaving without saying goodbye in person.“To my colleagues at the Bench: I apologise. First, for being unable to last the distance and second, for not saying goodbye to you in person.”During his short tenure as the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, the judge acted fearlessly in checking government actions - both Centre and State. In one of his most discussed hearings, he orally remarked that the Election Commission officials should be tried for murder charges for their failure to stop abuse of COVID-19 protocol in political rallies.“You are the only institution that is responsible for the situation today. No action against political parties taking rallies despite every order of the Court. Your election commission should be put up on murder charges probably!” he had said.This was reported in media and led to a furore with the Election Commission going right up to the Supreme Court praying that media should not be allowed to report oral remarks made by courts.The top court dismissed the plea while upholding the right of media to report court proceedings including oral observations made by judges during the course of the hearing.Why: On July 19, the Bombay High Court spoke of Father Stan Swamy,"When we heard the news, we were also shocked and sad about what happened. This is unfortunate and we also did not anticipate this to happen."The courts had failed to provide succour to the ailing octagenarian priest, who passed away on July 5 while still in custody.Swamy was arrested from his house in Ranchi on October 8, 2020 for his alleged role in inciting riots at Bhima Koregaon in 2018. He was the last and the oldest person to be arrested in the case and had remained in judicial custody till he passed away. This was not the first time the criminal justice system let him down. Swamy's well-wishers had to run from pillar to post trying to ensure basic amenities for the Parkinson's patient. While in judicial custody, Swamy had moved the National Investigation Agency (NIA) court requesting that he be given his belongings, including a straw and a sipper. His plea was, however, rejected by the NIA court on November 26 after the NIA told the court that it did not have Swamy's belongings. Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Sunil Ramanand later told Bar & Bench that Swamy has been provided with straw and sipper, a fact that was later confirmed by Swamy's lawyer. Swamy had moved an application seeking temporary bail on medical grounds in the appeals challenging the orders of the Special NIA Court refusing him bail. He then filed a writ petition challenging the constitutional validity of Section 43(D) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) on the ground that it was violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India. He submitted in the petition that he was entitled to bail under Article 21 of the Constitution due to his advanced age and deteriorating health. In the alternative, he requested to be placed under house arrest at his residence.However, none of these pleas bore fruit, and he was eventually admitted to Holy Family Hospital after an order of the High Court. By then, it was too little, too late..Why: Ramani successfully defended herself in a landmark case, one that Senior Advocate Rebecca John called, "probably the most important case of my career."She was accused of criminal defamation by Union Minister MJ Akbar in October 2018 after she took to Twitter to level allegations of sexual misconduct against him during the #MeToo movement. She claimed that he sexually harassed her when she was called to The Oberoi, Mumbai for a job interview in December 1993.The accusation prompted Akbar to file a criminal defamation case against her.While Ramani pleaded truth, good faith, public interest and public good as her defences in the defamation trial, Akbar denied the meeting at the hotel.After a trial that lasted almost two years, a Delhi Court at Rouse Avenue acquitted Ramani.In the judgment, Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ravindra Kumar Pandey made several key observations, including that a woman has the right to put her grievance on any platform of her choice, even after decades."The woman cannot be punished for raising voice against the sexabuse on the pretext of criminal complaint of defamation as the right of reputation cannot be protected at the cost of the right of life and dignity of woman as guaranteed in Indian Constitution under article 21 and right of equality before law and equal protection of law as guaranteed under article 14 of the Constitution," said the judge.Why: Sudha Bharadwaj became the first person to be granted bail in the Bhima Koregaon case of 2018. She was granted default bail in December 2021 after spending over three years in jail.Bharadwaj is alleged to have been in the possession of certain documents with the prosecution alleging that she was an ‘active member’ of banned organisation CPI (Maoist).In her plea seeking default bail, Bharadwaj contended that upon the expiry of 90 days of detention, there was no valid or lawful order extending time for the filing of the chargesheet, and hence she was entitled to default bail. The High Court granted bail to Bharadwaj on the ground that the extension of time for investigation and detention had not been done by a court of competent jurisdiction. The reasoning was upheld by the Supreme Court on the appeal filed by the NIA..Why: Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) Director Sameer Wankhede was the central figure in the drugs cases involving celebrities that often made it to front-page news in 2021.Some of these included the drug case which arose after the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput and the Cordelia Cruise case involving Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan's son, Aryan Khan. While Khan was detained in judicial custody for 25 days before he was granted bail, this case triggered a controversy which led to Wankhede being removed as the lead probe officer.Before the cruise case, Wankhede was also investigating a drug case which involved the son-in-law of Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik. After Malik's son-in-law Sameer Khan was released on bail, Malik put up tweets raising conjectures that Wankhede may have forged his caste certificate in order to get into the Central government services. Wankhede’s father, Dhyandev Wankhede raised objection to this through a defamation suit filed before the Bombay High Court. Wankhede’s family members also initiated independent proceedings against Malik..Apart from the controversies surrounding his personal life, Wankhede was also embroiled in allegations on the professional side. The bodyguard of independent witness KP Gosavi stated on affidavit that NCB threatened him and forced him to sign a blank panchnama in the cruise ship drugs case to implicate Aryan Khan.Post this, there were more applications filed by accused in NDPS cases alleging improper procedure adopted by NCB during their search and seizures and other applications accusing Wankhede of extortion and corruption. Based on the complaint, Mumbai Police set up a 4-member team to investigate allegations of extortion and corruption..Why: Justice Ganediwala was the author of a controversial judgment in a Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) matter. In January 2021, she had held that pressing the breast of a child without removing her clothes will not amount to 'sexual assault' under Section 7 of the POCSO Act, since there was no “skin-to-skin” contact.The verdict received widespread criticism, with the National Commission for Women and even Attorney General KK Venugopal appealing against it before the Supreme Court. While setting aside the verdict, the apex court held,"The most important ingredient of for constituting the offence of sexual assault is sexual intent and not skin to skin contact with the child. Construction of a rule should give effect to rule rather than destroying it. The intention of legislature cannot be given effect to unless wider interpretation is given."Justice Ganediwala was appointed additional judge of Bombay High Court on February 8, 2019. A day after her controversial ruling, the Collegium recommended that she be made permanent judge as news about the ruling had not come in public domain by then. The controversial order prompted the Supreme Court Collegium to withdraw its consent to make Justice Ganediwala a permanent judge of the High Court. Her tenure as additional judge is set to expire in February 2022..Why: Khan, son of Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan, was arrested in a drug case leading to media frenzy. Legal news regarding his arrest and bail hogged prime time during the month of October when Khan remained in prison under judicial custody before he was eventually granted bail by the Bombay High Court.sKhan was arrested by Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) while he was on his way to a cruise ship Cordelia to attend a party. No drugs were seized from him but the NCB recovered drugs from his friend Arbaaz Merchant who was accompanying Khan.He was taken into custody by NCB on October 2, 2021 and was charged for contravention of Sections 8(c), 20(b), 27, 28, 29 and 35 of NDPS Act. NCB claimed to have seized 13 grams of cocaine, 5 grams of mephedrone MD, 21 gram charas and 22 pills of MDMA ecstasy from the raid.Khan was remanded to NCB custody till October 7 after which he was remanded to judicial custody. He immediately moved for bail, which was rejected by Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate RM Nerlikar. Subsequently, Khan moved the special court seeking bail, which came to be rejected on October 20. He then moved the High Court in appeal. After the High Court granted bail on October 28, Khan was released from jail on October 30. Khan was detained in judicial custody for 26 days and for the entire duration, every small development in the case was minutely tracked. His bail order by Bombay High Court later came to be relied upon by other accused in similar cases as well.