Justice Surya Kant was sworn in as the chief justice of the Himachal Pradesh High Court by Governor Acharya Devvrat on Friday in Shimla.

The ceremony took place at the Darbar Hall of the Raj Bhavan, where Chief Secretary B K Agarwal read out the Warrant of Appointment issued by the President of India.

Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, Assembly Speaker Rajiv Bindal, state ministers, Leader of Opposition Mukesh Agnihotri were among those present on the occasion.

He was appointed as the Chief Justice of the Himachal Pradesh High Court on Wednesday. Justice Surya Kant’s name was cleared for elevation by the Supreme Court in January this year.

“In exercise of the powers conferred by clause (1) of article 217 of the Constitution of India, the President is pleased to appoint Shri Justice Surya Kant, Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, to be the Chief Justice of the Himachal Pradesh High Court with effect from the date he assumes charge of his office,” an official notification read.

The process of elevating Justice Kant’s name was mired in controversies as Justice A K Mittal, who is senior to Justice Surya Kant, was left out of the race by the collegium, which in its recommendation has said all relevant parameters for elevation favoured Kant.

“Though Justice A K Mittal is senior to Justice Surya Kant in the seniority of Judges of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, having regard to all relevant factors and since we consider Justice Surya Kant more suitable than Justice A K Mittal, we are not recommending name of the latter, for the present, for appointment as Chief Justice,” the notification said.

Born on 10 February 1962 in a middle class family of Hisar district, Justice Kant earned his Bachelor’s degree in Law in 1984 from Maharishi Dayanand University, Rohtak.

He started practising Law at the District Courts, Hisar in 1984 and shifted to Chandigarh in 1985 to practise at the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

He was the youngest lawyer to be appointed as the Advocate General of Haryana on July 7, 2000.

Kant held the office of Advocate General, Haryana till his elevation as a Permanent Judge to the Punjab and Haryana High Court on January 09, 2004. He was nominated as a Member of the National Legal Services Authority on February 23, 2007 for two consecutive terms till February 22, 2011.

(With agency inputs)