In a historic day for Gujarat High Court, today1 Justice Sonia G. Gokani, was sworn in as not only the High Court’s 28th Chief Justice2, but also Gujarat High Court’s First Woman Chief Justice3. This also makes Justice Gokani to be the only woman Chief Justice of a high court at present4 (with Justice Sabina of Himachal Pradesh High Court discharging her duties as the Acting Chief Justice5).
*Did you Know? Justice Gokani’s tenure as Chief Justice will last only for a fortnight6 as she retires on 25-02-2023.
Early Life and Advocacy7
Justice Sonia G. Gokani was born on 26-02-1961, at Jamnagar, Gujarat. Her qualifications comprise of – B.SC in Microbiology; LL.B [ Special ] & LL.M [ Criminal ].
As an advocate Justice Gokani worked with various organizations for the cause of downtrodden women and children, and worked towards upholding environmental causes.
She served as part-time Lecturer at Shri K.P Shah Law College, Jamnangar and was later appointed and served as Member, District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum for nearly five years.
Justice Gokani joined Judiciary directly in the cadre of District judges as a Judge, City Civil & Sessions Court, Ahmedabad on 10-07-1995 and presided over on many civil and criminal matters.
After establishment of Special Court under the Anti-Terrorist Laws in the State of Gujarat, she worked as a Special Judge for this Court and conducted important matters from 2003 to 2008.
Justice Gokani also worked as a Judge, Special Court C.B.I for the cases investigated by CBI.
In March 2008, Justice Gokani was deputed to the High Court of Gujarat as Registrar [Recruitment] for recruitment of Judicial officers upto the cadre of District Judges. She served also, as Registrar [IT & Infrastructure] for nearly 18 months.
On 17-02-2011 Justice elevated as Additional Judge of the High Court of Gujarat and confirmed as Permanent Judge on 28-01-2013.
After the recommendation and subsequent elevation of former Chief Justice Aravind Kumar to the Supreme Court, Justice Sonia G. Gokani became the senior most Judge of the Gujarat High Court, which meant that the Collegium led by Chief Justice of India Dr D.Y. Chandrachud, recommended her name for the position of Gujarat High Court’s Chief Justice.
In its recommendation dated 09-02-2023, the Collegium stated that, “The appointment of Ms Justice Gokani as Chief Justice will bring a sense of inclusion and facilitate a representation for Judges drawn from the services in the office of Chief Justice.”8
Notable Decisions by Justice Sonia G. Gokani
Gujarat HC | Court goes beyond the relief sought, helps POCSO victim to become self-sufficient.
The Division Bench of Sonia Gokani and N.V. Anjaria, JJ., in Kakiben Raval v. State of Gujarat, 2021 SCC OnLine Guj 2030, went beyond the case to help a POCSO victim to continue her further studies from her parental home. Order was issued against a Criminal Misc. Application filed by the desirous victim pleading the Court to allow her to handover the custody of her minor daughter and join her parents. The applicant was called before the Court with her child before passing of the order. Read more
Gujarat HC | “Truth is the motto and object of every investigation, let no stone be left unturned”; Court reminds CID [Vadodara Custodial Death]
A Division Bench of Sonia Gokani and N.V. Anjaria, JJ., Sheikh Salim Shekhbabu v. State of Gujarat9, once again made sure that no stone was left unturned to go to the root of the matter stating that,
“Let no stone be left unturned and every possible attempt be made to go to the root of the matter. There must not be any scope of either laxity or soft paddling at any stage of investigation which is not only impermissible, but would also prove to be deleterious for the system.” Read more
Gujarat HC | Can apology be accepted as defence, justification or calculated strategy to avoid punishment for an act which tantamount to contempt of court?
A Division Bench of Sonia Gokani and N.V. Anjaria, JJ., in Suo Motu v. Vijay Arvindbhai Shah, 2020 SCC OnLine Guj 1274, held that there may not be an actual interference with the course of administration of justice but it is enough if the offending publishing or act is likely or tends in any way to interfere with the administration of law. In the present matter, on perusal of the submissions, High Court stated that the apology as may be tendered by the parties, the alleged contemners shall need to be regarded by the Court, where it is also to regard as to whether the apology tendered is at the first point of time without attempting to justify the actions and creating the defence or is it being used as an escape route. Read more
Gujarat HC | If marriage is registered under Special Marriage Act, is it necessary for the couple to take recourse of same law to sever ties permanently?
A Division Bench of Sonia Gokani and N.V. Anjaria, JJ., in Chavda Twinkle v. State of Gujarat, 2020 SCC OnLine Guj 1167 while addressing an application with regard to the custody of minor children observed that, it is trite law that till the minor children become 6 years of age, the custody ordinarily shall have to be with mother unless their welfare is an issue with the Court. Read more
Gujarat HC | “Caste system in the country making it more and more difficult for youth to decide their life partner”
The Division Bench of Sonia Gokani and N.V. Anjaria, JJ., in Niteshkumar Mulchandbhai Prajapati v. State of Gujarat, 2020 SCC OnLine Guj 897, while addressing a matter for protection of a couple, stated that, “By way of social policing, attempt can also be made by the officer concerned who is investigating the earlier complaint of the petitioner filed against family members of the corpus and to make an attempt to bring an amicable solution between the families”. Read more
[POCSO] | Gujarat HC | Lack of legal awareness amongst children, lends them as offenders in serious matters
A Division Bench of Sonia Gokani and N.V. Anjaria, JJ.,while addressing matter wherein a minor boy had taken away the minor girl and were missing for a significant amount of time, stated that,
“…right kind of understanding needs to be given, in the form of legal awareness amongst the children and college students so that society can simultaneously protect very young minor boys, who due to their lack of understanding of law, turn into the offenders in serious matters.” Read more
Gujarat HC | Mere apology may be no reason to an act, utterance or publication of contempt which scandalize the majesty of Court
A Division Bench of Sonia Gokani and N.V. Anjaria, JJ., in Suo Motu v. Yatin Narendra Oza, 2020 SCC OnLine Guj 1175, while rejecting the unconditional apology of the Yatin Oza, observed that,
“Entire gamut of facts when dispassionately and objectively viewed, we are unable to accept these words as true words of remorse and contrition and therefore, request to accept apology even if termed as unqualified, cannot be acceded to.” Read more
Gujarat HC | Refusal to appoint differently-abled violates their right to lead a life with dignity
The Single Bench of Sonia Gokani, J., in Sudhanshu Upendrabhai Chavda v. State of Gujarat10, observed that the refusal to appoint a person with disability for a post for which he has been selected through process of recruitment is a refusal of his right to equality and to lead a life with dignity.
In the instant case, the petitioner was aggrieved by the respondent’s refusal to appoint him on the post of Supervisor Instructor [Class III] although he had been selected for the post after completing the process of recruitment. Read more
*Sucheta Sarkar, Editorial Assistant has prepared this report.
9. R/Special Criminal Application No. 2595 of 2020
10. Special Civil Application No. 17799 of 2016