Justice Hidayatullah-Biography (11th Chief Justice and 6th Vice-President of India)

Justice Hidayatullah was an eminent jurist, scholar, author, educationalist and linguist. He was the 11th Chief Justice of India (from 25th February 1968 to 16th December 1970) and 6th Vice President of India (from 31st August 1979 to 30th August 1984) He had also served as an acting President of India two times from 20th July 1969 to 24th August 1969 and from 6th October 1982 to 31st October 1982.

Justice Hidayatullah was born on 17th December 1905 in Lucknow, United Province, British India (now Uttar Pradesh, India) in a very famous Muslim upper-class family. His father was an Urdu poet and his grandfather was an Advocate. Justice Hidayatullah was the first Muslim Chief justice of India and 2nd Muslim to hold the post of President of India.


He has completed his primary education from Government School of Raipur and he did his graduation from Morris College Nagpur. Justice Hidayatullah obtained his B.A and M.A degree from the Trinity College at the University of Cambridge. He secured 2nd order of merit and was awarded gold medal from there in 1930. In the same year he was called to the Bar from Lincoln’s inn. He pursued English and Law Tripos from there and secured a place of Barrister-at-Law.


After graduation, he returned to India and enrolled himself as an Advocate of High Court of Central Provinces. In 1942, Justice was appointed as a government pleader of High Court at Nagpur, in the next year he became the Advocate General of Central Province and Berar (now Madhya Pradesh) and he served his office till his appointment as an Additional Judge of High Court in 24th June 1946.

On 13th September 1943, Justice Hidayatullah was appointed as a permanent judge of High Court of Central Provinces and Berar. On 3rd December 1954, he appointed as the Chief Justice of Nagpur High Court and became the youngest Chief Justice of High Court. After two years in 1956 he was then appointed as chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court.

He was elevated as a Justice of the Supreme Court on 1st December 1958. After serving as a judge of the Supreme Court for almost 10 years on 28th February 1968 he was appointed as the Chief Justice of India.

When he was serving as Chief Justice of India, then-President Zakir Hussain died suddenly, then the Vice President Mr V. V. Giri became the acting President of India but V.V Giri resigned his office from the Vice President and acting President to became a candidate of presidential election in 1969. Then as chief Justice of India Justice Hidayatullah had served the post of acting President of India.

In 1982 when Justice Hidayatullah was the Vice President of India. The then President of India Zail Singh went to United States for his medical treatment then Justice Hidayatullah was officiated as an acting President of India. Thus he hold office of acting president twice.

The Hidayatullah National Law University was established in 2003 in the honor of Justice Hidayatullah in Raipur. The University organizes justice Hidayatullah Memorial National Moot Court Competition (HMNMCC) every year in his memory.

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