S. H. Kapadia

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Sarosh Homi Kapadia
Justice S.H. Kapadia.jpg
Justice Sarosh Homi Kapadia
38th Chief Justice of India
In office
12 May 2010 – 28 September 2012
Appointed byPratibha Patil
Preceded byK. G. Balakrishnan
Succeeded byAltamas Kabir
2nd Chief Justice of Uttarakhand
In office
5 August 2003 – 17 December 2003
Preceded byPrakash Chandra Verma (acting)
Succeeded byPrakash Chandra Verma (acting)
Personal details
Born(1947-09-29)29 September 1947
Mumbai, India
Died4 January 2016(2016-01-04) (aged 68)
Mumbai, India
SpouseShahnaz Kapadia

Sarosh Homi Kapadia (29 September 1947 – 4 January 2016) was the 38th Chief Justice of India. He was the first chief justice born in independent India.[1][2][3][4]


Justice S.H. Kapadia administering the oath of the office of the President of India to Shri Pranab Mukherjee at a swearing-in ceremony in the central hall of Parliament, in New Delhi on July 25, 2012

S. H. Kapadia was born in Mumbai in 1947.[5] He graduated from Government Law College, Mumbai which is the oldest law college in Asia. Kapadia started his career as a class IV employee.[6] He later became a law clerk in a lawyer's office in Mumbai. He joined Gagrat & Co., a law firm, as a clerk and later went on to work with Feroze Damania who was a highly respected "firebrand" labour lawyer. He later joined as an advocate in the Bombay High Court on 10 September 1974.

Kapadia was appointed an additional judge of the Bombay High Court on 8 October 1991 and on 23 March 1993 he was appointed a permanent judge. On 5 August 2003 he became the Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court. On 18 December 2003 he was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court.[5] On 12 May 2010 he was sworn in as the Chief Justice of India by President Pratibha Patil. He retired on 29 September 2012. During his tenure as chief justice[7] he was the chairman of the General Council of the Gujarat National Law University and the Visitor of the National Law School of India University.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Kapadia was married to Shahnaz and has a son who is a chartered accountant and a daughter. Kapadia was a devout Zoroastrian. He was also interested in economics, public finance, theoretical physics, and Hindu and Buddhist philosophies.[5] He died on 4 January 2016 in Mumbai.[9]

Notable judgments[edit]

Quashing of the appointment of Central Vigilance Commissioner[edit]

On 3 March 2011, a three-member bench headed by Kapadia, quashed the appointment of Chief Vigilance Commissioner, Polayil Joseph Thomas, made by the High Power Committee comprising Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Home Minister P. Chidambaram and Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj (dissenting). The judgment caused severe embarrassment for the government and made Manmohan Singh admit the error in appointment. While the judgement was welcomed by most media pundits,[10] some experts have expressed their concerns of miscarriage of justice. Former IAS officer, S. M. Murshed writes, 'the ratio decidendi of the Hon’ble Supreme Court is a bit difficult to comprehend, for, in the last analysis, the entire case against Thomas rested on a solitary, misconceived FIR which was filed as an afterthought and which should never have been filed. Given the facts, Manmohan Singh did no substantive wrong and he did not commit any error (in appointing Thomas).'[11]

Dissenting judgement in Lalu Prasad Yadav's bail cancellation case[edit]

Kapadia was part of the three-member Supreme Court bench that decided a PIL filed by two NDA leaders seeking the cancellation of bail of Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad and his wife and former Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi for their interference in the judicial process in the disproportionate assets (DA) and Income Tax cases against them.[12]

The verdict, by majority of 2:1, went in favour of Prasad but Kapadia gave a dissenting judgement saying the income tax department should have filed an appeal against the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) order. On the issue of promotion of judge Munni Lal Paswan, he said, while competence and suitability of two other judges, who were promoted to the post of Special Judge along with Paswan, were determined on the basis of annual confidential report (ACRs) and inspecting the judges' reports, the criteria was not applied while promoting Paswan who had been found to be slow in disposing cases.[12][13]

Vodafone judgment[edit]

The Vodafone judgment was among the most high-profile of Kapadia's tenure.[14]


Kapadia delivered a landmark judgement relating to succession of property in 30 April 2005 in which he ruled out the possibility of conducting the DNA test.[15]


  • "I am proud to be an Indian. India is the only country where a member of the minority Parsi community with a population of 1,67,000, like myself, can aspire to attain the post of the Chief Justice of India. These things do not happen in our neighbouring countries."
    • Chief Justice Kapadia speaking at the Independence Day celebrations in the Supreme Court.[16][17]
  • "I come from a poor family. I started my career as a class IV employee and the only asset I possess is integrity"
  • "Right to life, we have said, includes environmental protection, right to live with dignity. Now we have included right to sleep, where are we going? It is not a criticism. Is it capable of being enforced? When you expand the right, the judge must explore the enforceability."
    • Chief Justice Kapadia during a lecture on "Jurisprudence of Constitutional Structure".[18]
  • "A day might come when the rule of law will stand reduced to a rope of sand."
    • Justice Kapadia reacting to a flood of Public Interest Litigations (PIL) being filed in the Supreme Court against corruption and non performing government authorities.[19]


  1. ^ Agencies (30 April 2010). "Justice S H Kapadia appointed as new CJI". The Indian Express. Archived from the original on 5 October 2012. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
  2. ^ Aditi Phadnis (14 May 2010). "Newsmaker: S H Kapadia". Business Standard. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
  3. ^ "Sarosh Homi Kapadia Appointed Chief Justice of India". Parsi Khabar. 30 April 2010. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
  4. ^ "Honourable Mr. Justice S. H. Kapadia". Bombay High Court. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
  5. ^ a b c "CJ & Sitting Judges - Hon'ble Mr. Justice S.H. Kapadia". Supreme Court of India website. Archived from the original on 30 November 2010. Retrieved 30 April 2010.
  6. ^ "Forbes India Magazine - SH Kapadia: Pilgrim of Justice". Forbes India. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  7. ^ Ganz, Kian. "SH Kapadia, end of an era: India's greatest ever CJI or missed opportunity? How will you remember the legacy?". www.legallyindia.com. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  8. ^ "Justice S H Kapadia sworn in as new Chief Justice of India". The Times of India. 12 May 2010. Archived from the original on 26 May 2013. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  9. ^ "Former chief justice of India SH Kapadia passes away". The Economic Times. 5 January 2015. Retrieved 5 January 2016. Top legal luminary and former Supreme Court chief justice Sarosh Homi Kapadia passed away late on Monday, a family member said.
  10. ^ "A severe indictment". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 3 March 2011.
  11. ^ Murshed, S. M. (29 March 2011). "PJ Thomas: Saga of a Man Wronged". Boloji.com. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
  12. ^ a b "SC reprieve for Lalu PIL to cancel bail rejected". 22 August 2006. Retrieved 16 May 2012.
  13. ^ "Lalu, Rabri win a reprieve in SC". The Times of India. 22 August 2006. Archived from the original on 3 January 2013. Retrieved 16 May 2012.
  14. ^ "The Man Who Ruled in Vodafone's Favor". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
  15. ^ "SH Kapadia". www.business-standard.com. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  16. ^ "Minorities can rise to top jobs only in India: Chief Justice of India". The Times of India. 16 August 2012. Archived from the original on 17 August 2012. Retrieved 16 August 2012.
  17. ^ "Accountability law must not encroach on judicial independence, cautions CJI". The Indian Express. 16 August 2012. Retrieved 16 August 2012.
  18. ^ "Judges Should Not Govern Nation: CJI". Outlook India. 25 August 2012. Archived from the original on 30 January 2013. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
  19. ^ "Their crusading lordships". India Today. 16 November 2011. Retrieved 15 October 2012.

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by Chief Justice of India
2010 –2012
Succeeded by