Justice S J Mukhopadhaya retires as NCLAT chief


Justice Sudhansu Jyoti Mukhopadhaya, the first Chairperson of the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT), retired from the post on Friday after having remained at the helm since June 2016. During his tenure, he delivered judgments explaining different provisions of newly enacted Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 on which there was no precedent. A former Supreme Court judge, Justice Mukhopadhaya will turn 70 on March 15. He began his career as a lawyer after being enrolled as an advocate on May 18, 1979. He was designated as senior advocate in February 1993. He practised in the Patna and Ranchi High Courts where he dealt with constitutional, service, civil and criminal matters. He was appointed as a permanent judge of the Patna High Court on November 8, 1994. He was transferred on November 15, 2000 as permanent judge of the Jharkhand High Court on its creation, where he served as the Acting Chief Justice for about a year and three months. On  August 31, 2006 he was transferred to the Madras High Court  where he joined as the first puisne judge. Here, he also functioned as the Acting Chief Justice for about five months. After his stint in Madras, he served as Chief Justice at Gujarat High Court from December 8, 2009 to September 12, 2011. On September 13, 2011 he was elevated to the Supreme Court from where he retired on March 14, 2015. As a Judge he decided several important civil and Constitutional cases and to name a few- like the vires of the Bihar Panchayat Raj Act, 1993, in which case it was held that the reservation limit of 50% is applicable so far as Article 243D of the Panchayat Raj Act is concerned. The reservation for the seat of “Mukhiya” or “Pramukh” or “Adhyakchh”, the seat being a solitary post would amount to 100% reservation, which is not permissible. Therefore, no reservation could be made for the aforesaid seat. As a Judge of the Patna High Court, sitting in division bench he decided the ‘fodder scam’ and ‘bitumen scam’ cases.
He was part of the Supreme Court bench which held that Section 377 IPC does not suffer from the vice of unconstitutionality.
He was also part of the Supreme Court bench which ruled that Section 8(4) of the Representation of the People Act, which allow elected representatives three months to appeal their conviction and not to give effect to the conviction by trial court, as unconstitutional and further held that any MP, MLA or MLC whoever is convicted of a crime and awarded a minimum of two year imprisonment, loses membership of such house with immediate effect.