Former Chief Justice of India P N Bhagwati, who introduced public interest litigation (PIL) to the Indian judicial system, passed away here on Thursday, family sources said. He was 95.
Chief Justice of India from July 12, 1985, to December 20, 1986, Bhagwati was born on December 21, 1921, and studied in Bombay. The son of N H Bhagwati, who went on to become a Supreme Court judge, he began his law practice at the Bombay High Court and was elevated to the bench of the Gujarat High Court in 1960. He became its Chief Justice in 1967, and a Supreme Court judge in 1973.
As an apex court judge, Bhagwati introduced the concept of PIL and absolute liability to the Indian judicial system, while he was criticised for his judgment in the ADM Jabalpur v. Shivkant Shukla case (popularly known as the habeas corpus case) where he decreed that during an Emergency, a person's right to not be unlawfully detained can be suspended.
Bhagwati later agreed with popular opinion that this judgement was short-sighted and "apologised" for it.
Married to Prabhavati Shethji, he has three daughters Parul, Pallavi and Sonali.