K. V. Viswanathan is an Indian judge who was sworn in as a judge of the Supreme Court of India on 19 May 2023. He was administered the oath of office by the Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud at the auditorium of the Supreme Court.
K. V. Viswanathan, also known as Kalpathy Venkataraman Viswanathan was born on Thursday, 26 May 1966 (age 57 years; as of 2023) in Kalpathy, Palakkad, Kerala. His zodiac sign is Gemini. Hailing from a family of lawyers, Viswanathan decided to pursue a career in law when he was in college. He attended Coimbatore Law College, Bharathiar University (first batch), Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, to pursue a five-year integrated law degree. During his college days, Viswanathan practised at the chambers of advocate KA Ramachandran, a criminal trial lawyer at Coimbatore, as a legal intern. He enrolled with the Bar Council of India in 1988.
Height (approx.): 5′ 7″
Hair Colour: Salt & Pepper (dyed Black)
Eye Colour: Dark Brown
He belongs to a Malayali family.
Parents & Siblings
Not much is known about his parents & Siblings.
Following his enrolment in the Bar Council of India in 1988, Viswanathan relocated to New Delhi and started practising at the chamber of senior advocate CS Vaidyanathan, who subsequently served as an Additional Solicitor General of India. He practised under Vaidyanathan for around two years and later joined the chamber of senior advocate KK Venugopal (who went on to become the Attorney General of India), where he practised law for the next five years. After a practice of around two decades, Viswanathan was designated as a senior advocate by the Supreme Court of India in April 2009. Since then, K. V. Viswanathan has appeared in a wide range of cases in diverse branches of law ranging from constitutional law, criminal law, commercial law, the law of insolvency, and arbitration before the Supreme Court and High Courts across India. In 2013, he was appointed as the Additional Solicitor General of India under the UPA-II government.
His stature as a distinguished member of the Supreme Court Bar was recognised by the apex court in various cases, where he was appointed to assist the Supreme Court as amicus curiae. On 16 May 2023, a resolution was passed by the Supreme Court Collegium, comprising CJI DY Chandrachud, and Justices SK Kaul, KM Joseph, Ajay Rastogi and Sanjiv Khanna, which recommended the appointment of K. V. Viswanathan as a judge of the Supreme Court of India directly from the Bar. The resolution stated,
The appointment of Shri KV Viswanathan will enhance the representation to the Bar in the composition of the Supreme Court. Shri Viswanathan is a distinguished member of the Bar of the Supreme Court. His wide experience and profound knowledge will provide a significant value addition to the Supreme Court.”
Following the issue of a warrant of appointment from the office of President Droupadi Murmu, K. V. Viswanathan was sworn in as a judge of the Supreme Court on 19 May 2023, becoming the tenth lawyer to be directly appointed to the Supreme Court Bench from the Bar. The other nine are Justices SM Sikri, SC Roy, Kuldip Singh, Santosh Hegde, Rohinton Fali Nariman, UU Lalit, L Nageswara Rao, Indu Malhotra, and PS Narasimha. Also, he would be in line to become the Chief Justice of India (CJI) upon the retirement of Justice JB Pardiwala on 11 August 2023; he would be the fourth advocate from the Bar to become the Chief Justice of India after Justice SM Sikri, Justice UU Lalit, and Justice PS Narasimha.
- He has visited several law colleges in India as a guest faculty, interacting with law students and providing them with practical advice on joining the profession.
- Holding an experience of around 32 years in law, Viswanathan has appeared as a counsel in numerous high-profile cases.
- K. V. Viswanathan is a member of the Editorial Board of the Supreme Court Cases (SCC).
- In 2013, He was felicitated at an event organised by the Amity Law School, Noida.
- In an interview in 2014, Viswanathan talked about the need to set criteria like the pro bono work undertaken and the minimum number of reported judgements for the elevation of judges to the higher judiciary. He said,
The amount of income tax being paid alone cannot be the basis. Experts in fields like criminal law and taxation also have to be considered. There has to be diversity. In England, some men of Asian origin have been appointed. Mr. Rabindra Singh has been appointed at the age of forty-seven as a High Court judge which is commendable. Apart from merit, they look at diversity. We also need to consider that because we are a diverse society.”
- Previously, in October 2022, the Supreme Court Collegium headed by Chief Justice of India UU Lalit decided to recommend his name for elevation to the bench of the Supreme Court. However, the collegium members DY Chandrachud and Abdul Nazeer (retired) expressed reservations over procedural concerns and did not sign the recommendation.