M A I N   N E W S

Protect witnesses: Bala

Kochi, December 22
Chief Justice designate of the Supreme Court, K.G. Balakrishnan, today said proper police protection to witnesses would help them prevent from turning hostile.

He said speedy disposal of cases should be the top priority.

“Even though I am happy, I am highly conscious of the heavy responsibility,” Justice Balakrishnan told reporters who gathered at his residence here on learning about his appointment as the Chief Justice of India.

He said the court should stand by the side of the common man. However, this does not mean that it should be 'partial', he said adding the courts should hear the voice of the poor.

Indian judiciary was highly reputed in the world for its independence and impartiality, he said.

He hoped that he would get the full cooperation from the legal fraternity.

DELHI: Earlier, Law Ministry sources said President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam approved the appointment of Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court, as the new Chief Justice of India today. He replaces Chief Justice Y.K. Sabharwal who will retire on January 14, 2007. He will be the first-ever Dalit to occupy the coveted post.

A notification in this regard will be issued next week, sources said.

Justice Balakrishnan, the 37th Chief Justice, will have a tenure of three years and four months, till May 12, 2010, the day he retires.

Chief Justice Sabharwal had a tenure of 14 months while his predecessor Justice R.C. Lahoti had a 17-month stint.

Justice Balakrishnan was appointed Judge of the apex court on June 8, 2000.

Born on May 12, 1945, in the village of Thalayolaparambu in Kottayam district of Kerala, Konakuppakattil Gopinathan Balakrishnan graduated in law from Maharaja Law College, Ernakulam.

He was enrolled as an advocate on March 16, 1968 in Kerala Bar Council of Cochin (now Kochi) and practiced both on the civil and criminal side at Ernakulam.

Later on January 10, 1973 he was appointed as munsif in Kerala judicial service and promoted as assistant sessions judge on July 23, 1982. In about a year's time he was appointed as deputy registrar (judicial) in the Kerala high court.

Following his promotion as additional judge of Kerala High Court on September 26, 1985, and permanent judge on July 11, 1986, he was appointed Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court on July 16, 1998. Later, he became Chief Justice of Madras High Court on September 9, 1999, before being elevated as a Judge in the apex court. — PTI



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