Palanisamy Sathasivam (born 27 April 1949) was the 40th Chief Justice of India, holding the office from 2013 to 2014. On retirement from his judicial career, Sathasivam was appointed as the 21st Governor of Kerala from 5 September 2014 to 4 September 2019. Sathasivam is the second judge from Tamil Nadu to become the CJI, after M. Patanjali Sastri. He is also the first former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to be appointed as the Governor of a state. He is the first Governor of Kerala to be appointed by the Narendra Modi Government.
Sathasivam was born to Palaniswamy and Natchiammal in Kadappanallur near Bhavani in Erode district. He graduated from Government Law College Chennai after completing his BA degree Ayya Nadar Janaki Ammal College, Sivakasi.
Sathasivam enrolled as an advocate on 25 July 1973 at Madras. He was then appointed to the post of Additional Government Pleader, and later as the Special Government Pleader in the Madras High Court. He was appointed a permanent judge of the Madras High Court on 8 January 1996, and transferred to the Punjab and Haryana High Court on 20 April 2007. He was elevated to the post of Judge of Supreme Court on 21 August 2007. During his tenure as Chief Justice, he was the Chairman of the General Council of the Gujarat National Law University. He succeeded Sheila Dikshit as the Governor of Kerala in August 2014.
Justice Sathasivam authored several path-breaking judgments including the Reliance Gas Judgment (May 2010) where he observed that "in a national democracy like ours, the national assets belong to the people" and "the government owns such assets for the purposes of developing them in the interests of the people".
He also delivered the verdict in the controversial triple-murder case of Stains and upheld the conviction of Dara Singh. On 19 April 2010, he delivered the judgement in the Jessica Lal murder case of 29 April 1999. Along with Justice B. S. Chauhan, Sathasivam delivered the judgement in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case, sentencing Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt to five years' imprisonment under the Arms Act. Dutt was asked to serve out the remainder of his sentence. According to The Hindu, "In a number of judgements, he [Sathasivam] cautioned the courts against awarding lesser sentence in crimes against women and children and showing undue sympathy towards the accused by altering the sentence to the extent of period already undergone."
In January 2014, a three-judge panel headed by Chief Justice of India Palanisamy Sathasivam commuted sentences of 15 death-row convicts, ruling that the "inordinate and inexplicable delay is a ground for commuting death penalty to life sentence". Supreme Court of India ruled that delays ranging from seven to 11 years in the disposal of mercy pleas are grounds for clemency. The same panel also passed a set of guidelines for the execution of a death row convict, which includes a 14-day gap from the receipt of communication of the rejection of first mercy petition to the scheduled execution date, after going through the Shatrughan Chouhan vs Union of India case.