Ajit Prakash Shah
Justice (Retd.) Ajit Prakash Shah (born 13 February 1948 at Solapur) was the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court from May 2008 till his retirement in February 2010. Justice Shah is known for his bold judgments, including the world-headliner July 2009 ruling that found India's 150-year-old statute prohibiting homosexual acts as discriminatory and therefore a "violation of fundamental rights". (Section 377 of Indian Penal Code, IPC)
"It cannot be forgotten that discrimination is antithesis of equality and that it is the recognition of equality which will foster dignity of every individual," the Bench headed by Justice Shah said in the judgment.
He belongs to a family of lawyers; his grandfather, father and uncle were in the legal profession. His father became a Judge of Bombay High Court and upon retirement served as a Lokayukta. Justice Shah has a unique place in the history of Indian jurisprudence and he is placed in the league of Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer and Justice P.N. Bhagwati. He was disappointed on not being elevated as a Judge of the Supreme Court of India.
Justice Shah did his graduation from Solapur and attended Government Law College, Mumbai for his law degree. After a short span of practice at the Solapur District Court, he shifted to the Bombay High Court in 1977 and joined the chambers of the then-leading Advocate Shri S.C. Pratap. He gained experience in civil, constitutional, service and labour matters.
Justice Shah was appointed Additional Judge of Bombay High Court on 18 December 1992 and became a permanent Judge of Bombay High Court on 8 April 1994. He assumed charge as the Chief Justice of Madras High Court on 12 November 2005 and was transferred as the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court on 7 May 2008.
Since June 2011, Justice Shah has been the Chairperson of Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC), the self-regulatory body for non-news general entertainment channels (GECs) set up by the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) in consultation with the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB).
Besides Justice Shah, the 13-member BCCC comprises actor-activist Shabana Azmi, JNU sociologist Prof. Anand Kumar, former I&B Secretary Bhaskar Ghose, senior journalist Vir Sanghvi, representatives of five National Commissions (Women, Child Rights, Scheduled Castes, Backward Classes and Minorities), and four representatives of the Broadcast Industry.
Under Justice Shah's leadership, BCCC has delivered several landmark ORDERS for regulating the content telecast on various Indian TV channels. Recently, on a reference from the Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court, the BCCC also restrained TV channel Sony from telecasting two episodes of popular show ‘Crime Patrol’ based on the December 16 (2012) Delhi gang rape case. The BCCC ruled that the two episodes should not be telecast till the trial court delivered its verdict in the matter.
The BCCC has, so far, issued TEN (10) ADVISORIES relating to content of television programmes. These concern ‘portrayal of women’, ‘treatment of children’, ‘telecast of award functions’, ‘treatment of animals/wildlife’, ‘TV comedy shows’, ‘sexualisation of children’, ‘health & safety of children’, 'telecast of content on children's/ cartoon channels', 'telecast of content sensitive to minorities' and 'showing acid attacks on TV'.
- "Architect of HC gay order known for bold rulings". The Times of India. 3 July 2009. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
- New Delhi Lifts Colonial-Era Ban on Gay Sex, Washington Post. 2 July 2009.
- "Madras High Court". Hcmadras.tn.nic.in. 24 July 2004. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
- "AP Shah Transferred from Madras High Court to Delhi High Court". The Hindu. India. 7 May 2008. Retrieved 4 January 2012.