Prafullachandra Natwarlal Bhagwati

Prafullachandra Natwarlal Bhagwati
Prafullachandra Natwarlal Bhagwati
Born December 21, 1921

Prafullachandra Natwarlal Bhagwati shortly P. N. Bhagwati (born December 21, 1921) was the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India from 12-July-1985 until his retirement on December 20, 1986. He was awarded India's second highest civilian honour Padma Vibhushan in 2007.[1]


Early life

Bhagwati was born in Gujarat. He is the brother of economist Jagdish Bhagwati


He became Judge of Gujarat High Court in July 1960. In September 1967 he was appointed as Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court.

In July 1973, he was appointed as Judge of the Supreme Court of India and he became Chief Justice of India in August 1985. He was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2001.[2]

He introduced Public Interest Litigation in Indian Judicial system. He has a list of remarkable and out of the way judgements one can experience in his lifetime. He is the one to give civil justice and introduce absolute liability in India. He with Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer introduced Judicial Activism in the country and made the Supreme Court available to the common man.[citation needed]

He has been sympathetic to the People's Union for Democratic Rights in court cases.[3]

He was appointed the Chancellor of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning (Deemed to be University) by the Board of Trustees of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning (Public Charitable Trust) on May 6, 2011.[1] Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba had been the Chancellor of the Institute since its inception on November 22, 1981, until His departure on April 24, 2011.

He has most recently been in news for his judgment on the ADM Jabalpur v. Shivkant Shukla case (popularly referred to as ADM Jabalpur) where he decreed that during Emergency, a person's right to not be unlawfully detained (Habeas Corpus[4] ) can be suspended. This judgment gained a lot of criticism since it reduces the importance attached to Fundamental Rights under the Indian Constitution. Justice P.N. Bhagwati later agreed with the popular opinion that this judgement was short-sighted and "apologised" for the same.[5]


  1. ^ "Padma Awards Directory (1954-2007)". Ministry of Home Affairs. Retrieved 7 December 2010. 
  2. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter B". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 25 June 2011. 
  3. ^ Donnelly, Jack; Howard-Hassmann, Rhoda E.; Howard, Rhoda E. (1987-11-06). International handbook of human rights. ABC-CLIO. pp. 156–. ISBN 9780313247880. Retrieved 23 June 2010. 
  4. ^ "Habeas Corpus". 
  5. ^ "Interview with Justice Bhagwati (2011)". Video on 

External links

Preceded by
Y. V. Chandrachud
Chief Justice of India
July 12, 1985– December 20, 1986
Succeeded by
R. S. Pathak

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