10th Oct 2011 - 22nd Jun 2018
Justice Jasti Chelameswar graduated with a Bachelors in Physics from the Madras Loyola College and Bachelor in Law from Andhra University, Visakhapatnam in 1976.
He was enrolled as an Advocate with the High Court of Andhra Pradesh and practised under Senior Advocates Dr. B. Bhimaraju, Mr P. Rajarao, and Mr K. Srinivasa Murthy. He was the Standing Counsel for the Andhra Pradesh Lokayukta in 1985 and 1986. He also worked as a Government Pleader in the High Court of Andhra Pradesh in the year 1988 and 1989. In 1995, he was designated as a Senior Counsel and appointed as Additional Advocate General.
In 1997, he was elevated as the Additional Judge of the High Court of Andhra Pradesh. In 1999, he was elevated as a Judge. In 2007, he was appointed as the Chief Justice of the Guwahati High Court. In 2010, he was assumed charge as the Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court. In October 2011, he was elevated as a Judge of the Supreme Court of India.
He gave the dissenting opinion in Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association v. Union of India, which held the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) unconstitutional. Justice Chelameswar is known for pointing out discrepancies in the functioning of the collegiums, stating that the system has become ‘a euphemism for nepotism where mediocrity or even less is promoted and a constitutional disorder does not look distant.’ He has openly criticised the proceedings of the collegiums stating that they are absolutely opaque and inaccessible to public, with judges being selected on personal requests. According to him, the NJAC was much needed reform to address myriads of problems plaguing the Indian judiciary, including spiralling arrears and the inability to fill up vacancies. His decision to opt out of the collegium is proof of his aversion towards the current collegium system.
He was a part of the division bench of the Supreme Court which held Section 66A of the Information Technology Act 2000 as unconstitutional as being arbitrary, and excessively and disproportionately invading the right of free speech and expression.
He was a part of the bench, with J. Sapre that upheld the validity of Haryana Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Act, 2015, which introduced the minimum educational qualification for candidates to contest the panchayat elections.
He is a part of the bench of the Supreme Court that has clarified that no Indian citizen without an Aadhaar card can be deprived of basic services and government subsidies.