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V. Ramasubramanian  

Justice V. Ramasubramanian gets picked on merit overlooking seniority

Tamil Nadu is all set to get a second judge in the Supreme Court with President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday clearing the elevation of Justice V. Ramasubramanian from the date he assumes charge of his office and the Centre issuing a notification.

Pursuant to his elevation, Justice Ramasubramanian, now the Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court, will remain in office till June 2023 even as Justice R. Banumathi, only judge from Tamil Nadu in the Supreme Court at present, retires from service on July 19, 2020.

The Supreme Court once had a complement of three judges from Tamil Nadu with successive elevation of Justices F.M. Ibrahim Kalifulla, C. Nagappan and R. Banumathi in April 2012, September 2013 and August 2014 respectively.

However, after the retirement of Justice Kalifulla in July 2016 and Justice Nagappan in October 2016, Justice Banumathi remained the sole representative of the State in the Supreme Court. Justice Ramasubramanian’s elevation comes after a gap of five years since a judge from Tamil Nadu was elevated to the apex court.

A well-known scholar in Tamil and a master of the art of writing judgments, he was born on June 30, 1958 and obtained his bachelor’s degree in science from Vivekananda College in Chennai before graduating in law from the Madras Law College and enrolling as a member of the Bar on February 16, 1983.

After 23 years of practice as a lawyer in the High Court and other judicial fora, he was elevated as an additional judge of the Madras High Court on July 31, 2006 and as a permanent judge on November 9, 2009.

He was sworn in as Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court on June 22, 2019 and continues to hold the post till date. The decision taken by the Supreme Court collegium to elevate him to the Supreme Court bypassing the seniority had led to discontent among certain sections. Nevertheless, the collegium remained steadfast in its decision to consider merit too.

Landmark ruling

During his tenure in the Madras High Court, Justice Ramasubramanian had delivered several landmark verdicts. In one judgment on a trademark dispute raised by a web portal, he had delved deep into the Internet age ever since its beginning in 1969 with just four computers located at University of California.

In that judgment, he had said the Trademarks Act of 1999 speaks of honest practices in business at two places, but does not indicate anywhere as to what constitutes honest practice. “It may perhaps be due to the fact that persons who follow honest practices in everyday life do not need a definition from the statute book, while for others no amount of definition would be of any use,” he added.

He so went on to state: “Honesty is actually an animus of mind. It can never be discovered either by words spoken by a person or by acts of omission and commission committed by him. Therefore, one can only make inferences from the circumstances.”

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