H. L. Dattu

Handyala Lakshminarayanaswamy Dattu (born 3 December 1950) is a former Chief Justice of India(CJI),[1] and the current chairman of the National Human Rights Commission.[2] As the CJI he served for nearly 14 months, from 28 September 2014 to 2 December 2015. Before his elevation as a judge of the Supreme Court of India on 17 December 2008; he had served as the Chief Justice of Kerala High Court and Chhattisgarh High Court.[3][4][5][6]

Handyala Lakshminarayanaswamy Dattu
Justice H. L. Dattu BNC.jpg
42nd Chief Justice of India
In office
28 September 2014 – 2 December 2015
Appointed byPranab Mukherjee
Preceded byRajendra Mal Lodha
Succeeded byT. S. Thakur
Judge, Supreme Court of India
In office
17 December 2008 – 28 September 2014
Judge, High Court of Karnataka
In office
18 December 1995 – 12 February 2007
Chief Justice of Chhattisgarh High Court
In office
12 February 2007 – 18 May 2007
Chief Justice of Kerala High Court
In office
18 May 2007 – 17 December 2008
Personal details
Born (1950-12-03) 3 December 1950 (age 70)
Chikkapattanagere, Chikmagalur, Mysore State, India

Early life and educationEdit

Handyala Lakshminarayanaswamy Dattu was born in Chikkapattanagere village in Chikmagalur district of Mysore State (now Karnataka). His father H L Narayanaswamy was an English teacher. He completed his early education in Kadur, Tarikere, and Birur, before moving to Bengaluru where he completed his LLB.[7][8]

Career as a lawyerEdit

Dattu was enrolled as an advocate at the bar on 23 October 1975. He practised at Bengaluru in civil, criminal, constitutional, and taxation matters. He appeared as government counsel in the Karnataka High court for the sales tax department from 1983 to 1990, government advocate from 1990 to 1993, standing counsel for the income tax department from 1992 to 1993, and a senior standing counsel for the Income Tax department from 1993 to 1995.[3][4]

As a judgeEdit

Dattu was appointed a judge of the Karnataka High Court on 18 December 1995. Thereafter, on 12 February 2007; he was elevated as Chief Justice of Chhattisgarh High Court. On 18 May 2007, he was transferred to head the Kerala High Court.[3] On 5 September 2014, the President of India had appointed Dattu as the next Chief Justice of India, on the recommendation of CJI R M Lodha. On 28 September 2014, he was sworn in as the 42nd Chief Justice of India.[9] He held the post for a little over a year until his retirement on 2 December 2015, on turning 65 years of age – one of the longest tenures for a CJI in recent years.[3][4]

In February 2014, Dattu was nominated by then CJI P Sathasivam as the CJI's nominee to the five-membered panel to appoint the Lokpal.[10] He is the visitor of Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur.[11]

In February 2016, Dattu began serving as the chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of India.[2]


Dattu is known for his penchant for hard work and has few outings with his family and friends. He describes former CJI S. Rajendra Babu as his guru. He has also contributed in the field of social work under organisations like the Rotary Club. He is a fervent devotee of Tirupati Balaji and Sri Ganesha. He is also a connoisseur of Carnatic music.[3] He is known for his hard work and, is considered as a disciplinarian.[7]

Dattu is known for his humanistic approach towards justice system. On a noted incident, he gave justice to an old woman who appealed against a bank which denied job for her granddaughter due to passing the deadline for applying. He ruled out this deadline and asked the bank to consider it as a special case on the grounds that the old woman was uneducated, she can hardly understand the regulations and also considering the helplessness of the grand old woman. While he was Chief Justice of Chhattisgarh High court in 2007, he gave a decision justifying the permanent job status for all temporary contract jobs employees working in the High Court of Chhattisgarh.


Dattu had corruption charges leveled against him before he became chief justice. Justice Katju has taken up the issue in his blog posts, where he called for Dattu's impeachment on charges of corruption.[12][13]

Dattu was also involved in controversy after he asked for the names of whistleblowers to be revealed in the 2G spectrum case.[14]


  1. ^ "Hon'ble Mr. Justice Handyala Lakshminarayanaswamy Dattu". Supreme Court of India. Archived from the original on 29 March 2010. Retrieved 10 March 2010.
  2. ^ a b "Justice H.L. Dattu joins NHRC as Chairperson". Business Standard. ANI. 29 February 2016. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Justice H L Dattu Sworn-in as Chief Justice of India". New Indian Express (IANS & ENS). IANS & ENS. 28 September 2014. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
  4. ^ a b c "Welcome Chief Justice of India HL Dattu: Sworn in for 14-month term" (Legally India). IANS. 28 September 2014. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
  5. ^ "Hon'ble Mr. Justice H.L. Dattu". Supreme Court of India. Archived from the original on 22 September 2014. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
  6. ^ "Chief Justice H. L. Dattu". Kerala High Court. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
  7. ^ a b Sarda, Kanu (28 September 2014). "Hard Taskmaster Dattu Steps in as CJI". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  8. ^ Anand, Utkarsh. "Next Chief Justice a 'court employee' who guards his personal space". Indian Express. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  9. ^ "Justice HL Dattu appointed next Chief Justice of India". Times of India. Retrieved 7 September 2014.
  10. ^ Esthose Suresh, Appu (3 February 2014). "CJI nominates Justice Dattu to Lokpal selection panel". Indian Express. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  11. ^ "About HNLU". Hidayatullah National Law University. Archived from the original on 10 September 2014. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
  12. ^ Rao, Krishnaraj (13 June 2015). "Katju's challenge – Impeach Dattu or jail me for contempt". Saddahaq.com. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
  13. ^ Katju, Markandey (15 October 2015). "The Supreme Court's Remarks Against Sanjiv Bhatt Violate Its Own Earlier Verdicts". Thewire.in. Archived from the original on 5 June 2016. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  14. ^ Gopinath, Vrinda (24 September 2014). "Chief Justice in Waiting HL Dattu is not good news for civil society and investigating journalists, says Vrinda Gopinath". Altgaze.com. Retrieved 15 June 2016.

External linksEdit

Legal offices
Preceded by
Rajendra Mal Lodha
Chief Justice of India
28 September 2014 – 2 December 2015
Succeeded by
T. S. Thakur