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​Hon'ble Mr. Justice S. R. Bannurmath
Chairman
Law Commission of Karnataka

(Former Chief Justice of Kerala and Chairperson of Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission)

1.Date and Place of Birth

23.01.1948 at Dharwad.

2.Educational Qualifications

B.Sc, LL.B (Spl.)

3.

Date of enrollment as Advocate & positions held till his elevation as Judge of High Court
  • Enrolled as an Advocate on the roll of Karnataka State Bar Council on 28th March 1973 and started practice at Belagavi District Court under Senior Advocate late Shri D.T.Mule and late Shri A.S Patil (Tonsyal) of Bijapur Bar.
  • In 1974 shifted practice to High Court of Karnataka at Bengaluru by joining office of Shri K.A.Swami (who was later elevated to Bench in 1979 & retired as Chief Justice of Tamil Nadu).
     
  • 1979 started independent practice, dealing in all branches of law. Specialising in Civil, Criminal and constitutional cases in Karnataka High court and also appeared regularly in Supreme Court of India.
     
  • Considering early achievements and outstanding merit, especially in criminal law, in 1990 he was the youngest advocate to be appointed as State Public Prosecutor & Government Advocate and continued till June 1997, in spite of change of 4 governments and 5 Advocate Generals.
4.Details as a Judge and the Chief Justice of High Court

i.  He was elevated to the Bench of Karnataka High Court as a Judge and he assumed the office on 11th June 1997.

ii.  Between1997-2009 rendered thousands of judgments in all branches of law.

iii. Considering His Lordship's vast knowledge and expertise in criminal law, as a defence advocate, as State Public Prosecutor, majority of times he was assigned with major criminal cases both as a Single Judge and in Division Bench.

iv.  Rendered hundreds of landmark judgements in criminal law, giving new dimension to criminal justice system, safeguarding interest of accused, victims and the society.

v.  He assisted Justice V. S. Malimath Commission on "Reforms on Criminal Justice System" especially on Victimology.

vi.  Landmark judgements include five death penalty judgements. Noted amongst them are Swami Shradhdhananda case, & psychopath serial killer Umesh Reddy.

vii.  In an acid throwing case known as Haseena case for the first time in India, even after the accused had undergone imprisonment and out of jail, noting the heinous nature of the crime, he ordered the accused to undergo imprisonment for life with a compensation of Rs.2 lakhs to the victim. At the same time considering plights of such victims in general, directed the Govt. to implement a scheme framed by him for such acid victims including medical and monitory help, rehabilitation etc.

viii.  As per the direction of the Supreme Court, he was the designated judge to monitor mental health of citizens of Karnataka and issued numerous directions in bringing awareness and importance of mental health in the society. He monitored mental health institutions including renovations of mental health institute Dharwad (earlier known as mad house), which is today one of the best mental health institute serving needy people of north Karnataka. 

ix.  He was initially a member and later Chairman of Court Computerisation Committee, an initiative of Karnataka High Court. Karnataka High Court was the first High Court in India to develop its own Operating System to manage entire court procedure like filing, scrutiny, certified copies etc. This resulted in reducing pendency and increasing efficiency of court management to reduce pendency of cases to large extent. He was the first judge to introduce evidence recording through video conferencing. First time in India he also introduced video conferencing system in all prisons in the state. 

x.  As a founder President of Bangalore Mediation Centre, he was invited to USA by Justice Dept. of America. He along with a team of Judges held discussions with major institutions like Warner Brothers, Microsoft, General Motors and Stanford University on Intellectual Property Rights issues concerning U.S. and India.

xi.  Elevated as Chief Justice of Kerala in 2009 and retired on 22.01.2010.

xii.  Though his tenure as Chief Justice in Kerala was hardly one year, because of his integrity and uncontroversial nature and his efforts to improve the justice delivery system with innovative ideas, earned him good name and he was acclaimed by one and all as only the second best chief justice after Dr. Justice V.S.Malimath, Kerala ever had.

xiii.  To bring transparency in judiciary, he was the first Chief Justice in India, who declared his assets along with all judges of Kerala High Court and posted on website of Kerala High Court in September 2009. He also established the first Green Bench to protect environment and Bio-Structure of Kerala.

xiv.  In fact on the date of his retirement, (Late) Justice Shri.V R Krishna Iyer, Former Supreme Court Judge and acclaimed jurist of international repute wrote  thus:

"To honour the great Chief Justice Bannurmath, the Chief Justice of Kerala, I join you to pay homage to that high noble functionary. He was a great judge and the qualities of a good justice in the words of Socrates run thus: four things belonged to judge; to hear courteously, to answer wisely, to consider soberly and to decide impartially'.​

His departure leaves a void in the judiciary of Kerala, because it is difficult to find a man of his humility, erudition, compassion and gentlemanliness. He is too young to retire as his rich services are needed for the country at a time when judiciary is normally losing its sublime stature. Our nation is glorious because there are some good Bannurmaths. My age and physical ailments prevent me from attending the send-off function. But I wish with all my heart a fine span of peaceful but useful life ahead for this excellent judge".

5.As a Chairperson of Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission, Mumbai.

After his retirement as the Chief Justice of Kerala, he was appointed as the Chairperson of Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission, Mumbai and he assumed the said office in the month of September 2013 and he demitted office in January 2018 on completion of five years tenure.

6.As the Chairman of Law Commission of Karnataka, Bengaluru.

He was appointed as the Chairman of the Law Commission of Karnataka and he assumed the office of the Chairman on 20th September, 2019.

7.Other positions recently held by him.

​1. After his retirement as the Chief Justice of Kerala, he was the Chairman of "Expert Committee on Advanced Centre of Cyber Laws & Forensics".  
2. He was also Chairman of prestigious B.M.S. Education Trust, Bengaluru. 
3. He is a regular guest resource person to the National Law School Universities at Bangalore and Mumbai and various law institutions including prestigious law institutions like Bharati Vidyapeeth Pune, Bombay University, Maharashtra National Law School, Judicial Academies at Bengaluru and Bhopal. He was also the Chairman of "Ethics committee on Medical Research" of Manipal Group of Hospitals.
4. Patron of CARE INDIA MEDICAL SOCIETY Pune, a palliative cancer care Centre Pune.
​​5. Honorary Vice-Chairman of Bangalore International Mediation and Conciliation Centre (BIMACC).