Jasti Chelameswar

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Hon'ble Justice
Jasti Chalameswar
Judge of the Supreme Court of India
Assumed office
October 10, 2011[1]
Appointed by Pratibha Patil
Chief Justice, Kerala High Court
In office
March 17, 2010 – October 9, 2011
Preceded by S. R. Bannurmath
Succeeded by Manjula Chellur
Chief Justice, Gauhati High Court
In office
May 2, 2007 – March 17, 2010
Personal details
Born (1953-06-23) 23 June 1953 (age 64)
Movva mandal, Krishna district
Alma mater Andhra University,
Loyola College, Chennai

Jasti Chelameswar (born 23 June 1953) is a judge on the Supreme Court of India. He was formerly the Chief Justice of the High Court of Kerala and Gauhati High Court.[2]

Early life[edit]

Chalameswar was born in Peddamuttevi village of Movva mandal, Krishna district, Andhra Pradesh, the son of Jasti Lakshminarayana, a lawyer who practised at the district court, by his wife Annapoornamma. After completing his schooling in Machilipatnam, Chelameswar enrolled at Loyola College, Chennai and took a bachelor's degree in Science with Physics as his major subject. He then studied Law and took an LLB from Andhra University, Visakhapatnam in 1976.[3]


Chalameswar served as an Additional Judge at the then High Court of Andhra Pradesh. Later, he became the Chief Justice of Guwahati High Court in 2007. He was later transferred as the Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court and was elevated as a Judge, Supreme Court of India in October 2011.[4]

According to an Op-Ed in The Economic Times:

Chelameswar, once a government pleader, was appointed additional judge in the Andhra Pradesh High Court in 1997. He has been chief justice of both the Guwahati and Kerala high courts where he is perceived as having done exemplary work on the green benches there. He was made a Supreme Court judge in 2011 after an unexplained delay. This denied him the chance to be chief justice of India. He has delivered several landmark judgements while in the top court.[5]

Notable Judgements[edit]

Freedom of Speech[edit]

Chelameswar and Rohinton Fali Nariman formed the two judge bench of the Supreme Court of India which struck down a controversial law which gave Indian police the power to arrest anyone accused of posting emails or other electronic messages which "causes annoyance or inconvenience". The judges held Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, which made such offenses punishable up to three years imprisonment, to be unconstitutional.[6][7][8][9][10] According to Chelameswar and Nariman, several terms in the law they were striking down were "open-ended, undefined and vague" which made them nebulous in nature. According to the judges: "What may be offensive to one may not be offensive to another. What may cause annoyance or inconvenience to one may not cause annoyance or inconvenience to another.”[10]

In their judgement the judges clarified that a distinction needs to be made between discussion, advocacy, and incitement. Any discussion, or advocacy of even an unpopular cause cannot be restricted, and it is only when such discussion or advocacy reaches the level of incitement whereby it causes public disorder or affects the security of the state can it be curbed.[8][9][10]

The judgement has been welcomed for defending the Indian Constitution's ideals of tolerance and the Constitutional provisions of free speech.[11][12] It has been pointed out that the controversial law struck down by Chelameswar and Nariman had gained notoriety after many people in India started getting arrested for seemingly innocuous reasons on the ground that they had violated the now scrapped law.[9][11][12][13]


A three judge bench of the Indian Supreme Court, comprising Chelameswar, Sharad Arvind Bobde, and Chokkalingam Nagappan, ratified an earlier order of the Supreme Court and clarified that no Indian citizen without an Aadhaar card can be deprived of basic services and government subsidies.[14]

National Judicial Appointments Commission(NJAC) verdict[edit]

In his dissenting opinion in the NJAC verdict(2015), Chelameswar had criticised the collegium system of appointing judges, which he said has become “a euphemism for nepotism” where “mediocrity or even less” is promoted and a “constitutional disorder” does not look distant.[5][15]


  1. ^ "Hon'ble Mr. Justice Jasti Chelameswar". Supreme Court of India. Retrieved 28 June 2012. 
  2. ^ "Meet Jasti Chelameswar, only judge who ruled in favour of government's NJAC - The Economic Times". The Economic Times. Retrieved 2015-11-03. 
  3. ^ "Supreme Court of India - CJI & Sitting Judges". www.supremecourtofindia.nic.in. Retrieved 2016-11-20. 
  4. ^ "Hon'ble Mr. Justice Jasti Chelameswar". Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  5. ^ a b "Meet Jasti Chelameswar, only judge who ruled in favour of government's NJAC". The Economic Times. 17 October 2015. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  6. ^ "Section 66A: India court strikes down 'Facebook' arrest law". BBC. 24 March 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2016. 
  7. ^ "India supreme court strikes down internet censorship law". The Guardian. 24 March 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2016. 
  8. ^ a b "A blow for free speech". The Hoot. 25 March 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2016. 
  9. ^ a b c "Supreme Court upholds free speech on internet, scraps 'unconstitutional' Section 66A of IT Act". Hindustan Times. 25 March 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2016. 
  10. ^ a b c "SC strikes down 'draconian' Section 66A". The Hindu. 24 March 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2016. 
  11. ^ a b "The judgment that silenced Section 66A". The Hindu. 26 March 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2016. 
  12. ^ a b "Our Politicians Loved Section 66(A)". NDTV. 24 March 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2016. 
  13. ^ "Stats from 2014 reveal horror of scrapped section 66A of IT Act". Hindustan Times. 20 August 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2016. 
  14. ^ "Don't insist on Aadhar, warns SC". The Hindu. 16 March 2015. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  15. ^ "The judge who dissented: 'No accountability, mediocrity or even less promoted, reform overdue'". The Indian Express. 2015-10-17. Retrieved 2015-11-03.