Former Chief Justice of India Ramesh Chandra Lahoti died on Wednesday evening in a hospital in Delhi, reported PTI. He was 81-years-old.

Lahoti was the 35th chief justice. He was appointed on June 1, 2004, and served till November 1, 2005, according to the National Legal Services Authority.

Born on November 1, 1940, Lahoti joined the Bar in Guna district of Madhya Pradesh in 1960 and enrolled as an advocate in 1962. He was appointed as a districts and sessions judge in April 1977, a role that he resigned from after a year. He went back to practising law in the High Court.

On May 3, 1988, he was appointed the additional judge of Madhya Pradesh High Court and made permanent judge on October 4, 1989. He was then transferred to Delhi High Court on February 7, 1994.

Lahoti was then made a judge of the Supreme Court of India on December 9, 1998, a post he served for seven years. During these years, he authored 342 judgements, of which 21.6% was criminal, 18.1% was civil and 14.9% was tenancy related matters, according to the Supreme Court Observer.

He presided over a three-judge bench on a petition that asked to repeal the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act, 1983. The Act made it hard for authorities to identify and deport “illegal immigrants” from Bangladesh in Assam, the Hindustan Times reported.

Lahoti repealed the act, saying it is discriminatory to citizens of Assam, reported the Supreme Court Observer.

Tributes pour in

Chief Justice of India NV Ramana on Thursday said that Lahoti will always be remembered as someone who was fearless and independent till his last breath, reported Bar and Bench.

The Supreme Court then observed silence for a minute for the former chief justice of India. Advocate Dushyant Dave also offered his condolences on behalf of the Bar.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi mourned the judge’s death, saying he will “always be remembered for his contributions to the judiciary, and emphasis on ensuring speedy justice to the underprivileged”.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Twitter that Lahoti’s life shall “serve as an inspiration to many.”

Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju said that was saddened to hear of Lahoti’s passing, and hailed how the former judge “rose from a humble background and reached the highest position of India’s judiciary because of his ability, knowledge and wisdom”.