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Did You Know That A Former Chief Justice Of India Did Not Have A Law Degree?

Justice Kailas Nath Wanchoo had a notable career that spanned various significant roles within the Indian judicial system before and after independence. Here are some key facts about his life and career:


  • Born on February 25, 1903, in Allahabad, K.N. Wanchoo was educated at prestigious institutions including Muir Central College, Allahabad, and Wadham College, Oxford.
  • He joined the Indian Civil Service in 1926, initially serving as an Assistant Magistrate and Collector in the United Provinces, which is today’s Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
  • Wanchoo’s judicial career began in earnest when he became a Sessions and District Judge in the United Provinces in 1937.
  • He was appointed as a judge at the Allahabad High Court in 1947, and later served as the Chief Justice of the Rajasthan High Court from 1951 until he was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1958.
  • Wanchoo became the Chief Justice of India on April 24, 1967, following the resignation of K. Subba Rao. His tenure as Chief Justice was relatively brief, as he retired on February 24, 1968.
  • Notably, he was the only Chief Justice of India who did not hold a law degree, making his ascent to the highest judicial post in India particularly remarkable.
  • Throughout his career, Wanchoo was involved in various commissions and inquiries, including chairing the Uttar Pradesh Judicial Reforms Committee in 1950 and the Indore Firing Inquiry Commission in 1954.
  • Post-retirement, he remained active, notably chairing the Railway Accidents Inquiry Committee and the Board of Arbitration at the Ministry of Labour.

Justice Wanchoo’s contributions were significant in shaping Indian judiciary and administration during a transformative period in Indian history. His judgments often touched on critical issues of constitutional law, labor law, and property law.

May 2024