Justice A.P. Shah, who retired as the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court after a distinguished tenure as an “activist-jurist”, was the Founding Chairperson of BCCC, guiding the Council from June 2011 to November 2013, when he was appointed Chairperson of the Law Commission of India.
His efforts in deciding complaints against TV programmes made BCCC emerge as India’s most credible self-regulatory body in the non-news television genre. Under his leadership, the BCCC pronounced several landmark decisions and issued ten Advisories covering subjects like portrayal of women, treatment of children, telecast of award functions, treatment of animals/wildlife, TV comedy shows, sexualisation of children, health & safety of children, telecast of content on children’s/cartoon channels, telecast of content sensitive to minorities, and telecast of scenes showing acid attacks. Under his leadership, the Council also issued detailed Orders in nine matters relating to content on various channels.
Justice Shah won international acclaim when he, as Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, delivered a historic verdict on 2 July 2009, decriminalising Section 377 of Indian Penal Code, dealing with homosexuality. His rulings have brought fans and toilet doors for prisoners, low-floor buses and railway station ramps for disabled and freedom of expression for creative artistes. As Madras High Court Chief Justice, he ushered in reforms in prisons, juvenile homes and observation homes for women. As acting Chief Justice of Bombay High Court, he opened up a new world to toddlers living with their mothers in Mumbai’s Byculla Jail and directed the government to create an anganwadi in the staff quarters. A strong votary of freedom of speech, Justice Shah has held: “Our courts have consistently maintained this is the most precious of all our rights – the ‘ark of democracy’, ‘the lifeline of any democratic institution’.”