Sitting Judge of the Supreme Court of India
Assumed Office31st Aug, 2021
Retires On25th May, 2025
Chief Justice of the Karnataka High CourtMay 10th 2019-August 30th 2021
Permanent Judge of the Bombay High CourtMay 10th 2005-May 9th 2019
Additional Judge of the Bombay High CourtAugust 29th 2003-May 9th 2005
Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka was born on May 25th, 1960. He completed his B.Sc and LLM from the University of Bombay.
Career as an Advocate
Justice Oka enrolled as an Advocate in Bombay in 1983. He started his career at the Thane District Court in his father’s chambers. He then joined the chambers of the then Senior Counsel for the Union of India V.P. Tipnis in 1985.
Career as a Judge
In 2003, he was appointed as an Additional Judge of the Bombay High Court. He was made a permanent Judge in 2005 and remained in the Bombay High Court for more than 13 years. He was appointed as the Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court in 2019, before being elevated as a Supreme Court judge on August 17th, 2021.
During his tenure as a High Court judge, he passed many orders on environmental protection and for better living conditions in Bangalore and Bombay.
Figure 1 shows that Justice A.S. Oka authored 82 Judgements and was a part of 214 Benches, during his tenure so far.
Figure 2 shows that a majority of Justice Oka’s Judgments (40%) fall under the Criminal category, indicating a significant focus on criminal cases. Additionally, there were 14% of judgments related to Civil matters apart from service (10%) and property (8%) matters.
During his tenure at the Karnataka HC, Justice Oka authored the judgement on the case pertaining to vaccinations. The state government was directed to prioritise individuals with disabilities according to Section 25 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. The judgement also provided guidelines to relevant authorities.
In the case relating to monkey deaths in Belur Taluk, as reported by several newspapers such as Deccan Herald, Indian Express, and Times of India, the Karnataka High Court took suo moto cognisance of the situation. Chief Justice Oka and Justice N S Sanjay Gowda emphasized the need to establish guidelines to prevent future incidents of animal cruelty, which were both inhumane and shocking.
At the Supreme Court, in the case of Debananda Tamuli v. Kakumoni Kataky, the question was if living separately for a long time implies desertion by a spouse. Justices Ajay Rastogi and A.S. Oka concluded that desertion depends on the specific facts of each case. It is a matter of drawing conclusions based on the evidence presented.
In the detailed judgment of Maniben Maganbhai Bhariya v. District Development Officer Dahod, Justices Ajay Rastogi and A.S. Oka emphasised the importance of the work done by Anganwadi workers/helpers at the grassroots level in separate but concurring opinions. They held that Anganwadi workers/helpers are entitled to receive gratuity under the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972.
In February 2023, a Constitution bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Sanjiv Khanna, Abhay S Oka, Vikram Nath, and J.K. Maheshwari referred the matter of the Dawoodi Bohra community's right to excommunicate its members to a nine-judge bench hearing the Sabrimala reference. The bench concluded that the 5-Judge Bench in Sardar Syedna Taher Saifuddin Saheb (1962) did not adequately balance the right to manage religious affairs against other fundamental rights, particularly the Right to Life.
During the same month, the same Bench upheld the validity of the All India Bar Examination (AIBE). This decision was made in the case of Bar Council of India v. Bonnie Foi Law College. It was held that conducting the AIBE is within the ‘parameters of law’, which was a key issue in the case. Additionally, they recommended some guidelines and conditions for law students and law graduates appearing for the AIBE exams.
In Haji Abdul Gani Khan and Another v. Union of India and Others, a Division Bench comprising Justices S.K. Kaul and A.S. Oka dismissed the petition challenging the notifications for the delimitation of assembly constituencies in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). The Bench clarified that the judgement passed did not concern the validity of the Jammu & Kashmir Re-organisation Act, 2019, which is currently being reviewed by the Supreme Court in a series of petitions challenging the revocation of Article 370 of the Constitution.