Justice A.S. Bopanna, first judge from Kodagu (Coorg) in Karnataka to be elevated to the Supreme Court of India, is the ‘Coorg Person of the Year, 2019’.
Ajjikuttira Somaiah Bopanna (in picture), aged 60, who was the chief justice of the Gauhati High, was elevated to the Supreme Court on May 24, 2019.
Justice Bopanna was the overwhelming choice for ‘Coorg Person of the Year’ title in a poll conducted for www.coorgtourisminfo.com, Kodagu’s first news portal, promoted by senior journalist P.T. Bopanna.
The Modi government which initially tried to block the appointment of Justice Bopanna, finally cleared his name for appointment as judge after the Supreme Court collegium overruled the Union government’s objections.
Justice Bopanna, whose parent high court is Karnataka, was appointed chief justice of the Gauhati High Court in October, 2018. He will have a long tenure at the Apex Court and will retire in May, 2024.
Justice Bopanna is the son of the late A.N. Somaiah, a prominent politician belonging to the erstwhile Janata Party, who served as a member of the Karnataka Legislative Council a few decades ago.
He enrolled as an advocate in 1984 and practised in civil, constitutional, company, service and labour matters in the Karnataka High Court as well as in the civil and labour courts. He worked as additional Central government standing counsel from 1999 to 2005. He was appointed as an Additional Judge of the High Court of Karnataka in January, 2006 and became a permanent judge in March, 2007.
Justice Bopanna hails from a family of coffee planters. He is married to Chendrimada Monica, and they have a son and a daughter.
Among the others who received nominations for Coorg Person of the Year, 2019, include Fulbright scholar Sowmya Dechamma and Devika Carriapa winner of Bal Sahitya award for 2019.
In the past, the winners of the Coorg Person title are Dr Kaveri Nambisan, novelist (2005), Dr Boverianda Nanjamma Chinnappa, researcher and writer (2006), Moodera Jagadeesh, scientist (2007), Air Marshal K.C. Cariappa, environmentalist (2008), cricketer Robin Uthappa (2009), tennis player Rohan Bopanna (2010), retired Tamil Nadu IAS officer P.M. Belliappa(2011), technology innovator Vineet Devaiah (2012), birdman Dr S.V. Narasimhan (2013), squash champion Joshna Chinappa (2014), athlete M.R. Poovamma (2015), cartoonist Nala Ponnappa (2016), Indian badminton player Ashwini Ponnappa (2017), and in 2018 it was jointly won by Kolera Zaru Ganapathy, educationist, and Ashok Kumar Shetty, industrialist and philanthropist.
Elaborating on the concept of selecting the Coorg Person of the Year, journalist Bopanna, said: “The concept first took shape in 2005 to develop role models for the people of Kodagu. The selection was made on the basis of a poll I conducted through my news portal www.coorgtourisminfo.com. Every year, I conduct a poll to select the Coorg Person for that year. The final choice is made by me after going through the feedback I receive from the members of my Kodagu-centric Facebook groups and pages, numbering over 20,000.”