The Desk

The Contributions of Late Justice Nanavati

G.T. Nanavati, former Judge of the Supreme Court of India, passed away on December 18th 2021.

G.T. Nanavati, former Judge of the Supreme Court of India, passed away on December 18th 2021. Nanavati J is perhaps best known for heading the Justice G.T. Nanavati Commission post retirement from the Supreme Court.

Nanavati J was elevated as a Judge of the Supreme Court in March 1995, where he served until he retired in February 2000. 

Nanavati J was appointed by the NDA Government as the Chair of the Justice G.T. Nanavati Commission (2000) after retiring from the Supreme Court. The Commission was appointed by the Union Government to investigate the 1984 Anti-Sikh Riots. 

Nanavati J was also a part of the Nanavati-Shah-Mehta Commission appointed by the Gujarat government to investigate the Godhra train burning incident and the 2002 Gujarat Riots.  

Here we discuss Nanavati J’s key judgments at the Supreme Court.

Gian Kaur, Euthanasia and the Right to Die

G.T. Nanavati J was a part of a five-judge Bench that in Gian Kaur v The State of Punjab (1996) overruled the landmark case of P. Rathinam v Union of India (1994). The Bench in Gian Kaur ruled that the Right to Life does not include the Right to Die. The Bench held that the Right to Dignity as a facet of the Right to Life does not include  the right to terminate the natural span of a person’s life.

Relief Under Article 226 Not to be Arbitrary 

In State of Maharashtra v Digambar (1995), Nanavati J was part of the three-Judge Bench which held that the High Court must consider the conduct of a party that approaches it for relief. The party’s blameworthy conduct or undue delay in approaching the Court shall weigh against the party when the Court is deciding whether to grant relief. Failure to do so would be arbitrary. 

Appointments and Reservation

In 1996, a two-judge Bench comprising Nanavati and K. Ramaswamy JJ in Vice-Chancellor, University of Allahabad v Anand Prakash Mishra the Bench ruled that merely keeping a candidate in the waiting list does not confer any right in favour of the candidates, and there was no obligation to fill vacant seats.