Chief Justice of India N V Ramana today condoled the death of former CJI Ramesh Chandra Lahoti who died at a hospital in Delhi last evening. Justice Lahoti was 81 years old.

CJI Ramana paid tribute to Justice Lahoti before the commencement of proceedings in the Court.

"His passing away is a jolt to the entire legal fraternity. Justice Lahoti will always be remembered as fearless and independent judge. I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends on behalf of my brother and sister judges in this hour," Ramana said adding that a full court reference will be held later.

Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave expressed condolences on behalf of the Bar.

"He was one of the finest judges this court has had and the Bar would always remember him as a great judge," Dave said.

Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju also condoled the death of Justice Lahoti. "Saddened to hear the passing away of Shri RC Lahoti, former Chief Justice of India. He rose from a humble background and reached the highest position of our countrys judiciary because of his ability, knowledge and wisdom," the Minister tweeted.

Justice Lahoti was appointed as the 35th chief justice of India on June 1, 2004. He retired on November 1, 2005. He was appointed as arbitrator by the Government of India in the Rs 20,000 crore high-profile tax dispute case with telecom major Vodafone.

Born on November 1, 1940, he joined the Bar in Guna district in 1960 and enrolled as an Advocate in 1962.

He was recruited directly to the bench in April 1977, from the Bar to the State Higher Judicial Service and was appointed as a district and sessions judge.

After serving in the post for a year, Justice Lahoti resigned in May 1978 and returned to the Bar to practice mainly in the High Court.

He was appointed an additional judge of the Madhya Pradesh High Court on May 3, 1988, and made a permanent judge on August 4 the next year.

He was transferred to Delhi High Court on February 7, 1994, and later appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court on December 9, 1998.

With PTI inputs