Happy International Women’s Day folks!

Today is the day to celebrate women and their lives, which includes their daily struggles to break that proverbial glass ceiling every single day! Although one day is just not enough to celebrate womenkind, but then who says no to a dedicated special day!

There was a time when almost every profession was a man’s world, including law. But change is the only constant and time is funny that way. Slowly and steadily women started making their presence felt in every sector- corporate, legislature; sports, law, you name it! These women established themselves against all odds and pre-conceived notions and made their indelible mark.

International Women’s Day is all about celebrating this very spirit, which motivates women to keep fighting. One such group of wonder women that we are going to celebrate today, are our Supreme Court Judges. These formidable women achieved something that was considered unfathomable at one point of time. Today we celebrate not only the destination they reached, but also the journey they undertook to reach their goals.

The Exemplary Eleven!

On this special day for women, we bring to you, stories of 11 remarkable woman Judges of the Supreme Court whose presence caused that glass ceiling to develop cracks deep enough to shatter!

Justice M. Fathima Beevi

The year was 1989, a year of sweeping changes across the world- a year when many walls were pulled down1 ushering in a new age of awakening. India too saw a great deal socio-economic and political changes.

The Indian Judiciary did not remain unaffected by this wave of change, and it became more evident on 06-10-1989, when history was created, as for the very first time, a woman Judge from Kerala High Court- Justice M. Fathima Beevi, was appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court of India2.

Born on 30-04-1927 in Pathanamthitta (Kerala) to Mr. Meera Sahib and Khadeeja Bibi, Justice M. Fathima Beevi not only became the First ever woman to become a Supreme Court Judge, but she also became the first Muslim woman in Higher Judiciary and the first woman to become a Supreme Court Justice in an Asian country3.

After her retirement in 1992, Justice M. Fathima Beevi was appointed as the Governor of Tamil Nadu in 1997 Justice M. Fathima Beevi went on to become the Governor of Tamil Nadu on 25-01-1997. Appointing her and former chief justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court as the governor of Kerala, the then President of India, Shankar Dayal Sharma. As the Governor of the State, she rejected the mercy petitions filed by four condemned prisoners in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. However, after a series of fateful events, Justice M. Fathima Beevi had to resign from her Governorship.

In 2002, the Left parties discussed the nomination of Justice M. Fathima Beevi as the President of India, however, the NDA Government proposed the name of Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam.4

Justice M. Fathima Beevi also served as a member of the National Human Rights Commission (1993) and the Chairman of Kerala Commission for Backward Classes (1993). She also received Hon. D Litt and Mahila Shiromani Award in 1990 and was awarded the Bharat Jyoti Award and the US-India Business Council (USIBC) Lifetime Achievement Award5.

Significant Decisions by Justice M. Fathima Beevi

In a case concerning limitations on statutory power, principles of Natural Justice and applicability of Rule of Law, Scheduled Caste & Weaker Section Welfare Assn. v. State of Karnataka, (1991) 2 SCC 604, Justice Beevi said, “It is one of the fundamental rules of our constitutional set-up that every citizen is protected against exercise of arbitrary authority by the State or its officers. If there is power to decide and determine to the prejudice of a person, duty to act judicially is implicit in the exercise of such power and the rule of natural justice operates in areas not covered by any law validly made.”

In an appeal to decide the Constitutionality of a State enactment, Assam Sillimanite Ltd. v. Union of India, 1992 Supp (1) SCC 692, it was observed, “Notwithstanding the declaration of the legislature that any particular Act has been made to implement the directives specified in Article 39, it would be open to the Court to ignore such declaration and to examine the constitutionality of the same. The declaration cannot be relied on as a cloak to protect the law bearing no relationship with the objectives mentioned in Article 39.

Justice Sujata V. Manohar

With Justice M. Fathima Beevi, the doors of the Supreme Court finally opened for women, and it became another avenue for them to conquer and leave a mark. Five years after Justice M. Fathima Beevi, another remarkable woman became a Supreme Court Judge- Justice Sujata Vasant Manohar.

Justice Sujata V. Manohar was born on 28-08-1934 in a distinguished legal family. Her father was Late Justice Kantilal Thakoredas Desai, who was the 2nd Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court6. She was educated at Elphinstone College, Bombay, Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, U.K. and Lincoln’s Inn. London. Justice Sujata V. Manohar enrolled as an Advocate in 1958 and made great strides in her career.

In January 1994, Justice Sujatha V. Manohar became the first woman Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court.

Justice Manohar was later transferred as Chief Justice of Kerala High Court and then was elevated as Judge of the Supreme Court of India with effect from 08-11-1994 and retired in 1999.

Justice Sujata V. Manohar was one of the two High Court Judges from India selected to participate in the course on Patent Trial held at Beijing under WIPO and U.N. auspices in December 1986.

Justice Sujata Manohar was one of the five women judges from all over the world to constitute a Tribunal for recording evidence and giving findings at the World Women’s Congress for a Healthy Planet held at Miami, U.S.A. in November 1991, held for formulating Women’s Action Agenda 21.

Justice Manohar was also one of the three delegates selected by the Government of India to participate in the International Conference of Law, Social Development & Social Welfare held at West Berlin in 1988 under auspices of the International Council of Social Work.

Justice Sujata V. Manohar was the Chairperson of the Committee of Judges set up by the Bombay High Court to establish Family Courts in Maharashtra7.

Significant Decisions by Justice Sujata V. Manohar

In Preeti Srivastava (Dr.) v. State of M.P., (1999) 7 SCC 120, where the matter revolved around standards of education and admission criteria for post graduate medical education, Justice Sujata V. Manohar, who delivered the majority opinion, held that, such standards can be laid down under List I Entry 66 and List III Entry 25 by Central Legislation. It was further held that it is for the Medical Council of India to determine reservation of seats, if any, to be made for SCs/STs/OBCs, the extent thereof and lowering of qualifying marks in their favour on the basis of proper balancing of public interests.

In Govt. of A.P. v. P.B. Vijayakumar, (1995) 4 SCC 520, Justice Sujata V. Manohar stated that Art. 15(3) of the Constitution contemplates reservation as well as affirmative action. The provision also comprehends the State’s power to provide reservation for women in employment. However, this power is not affected by Art.16. it was held that Art. 15(3) should be harmoniously read with Art. 16 of the Constitution.

Justice Ruma Pal

Born on 03-06-1941, Justice Ruma Pal became the third woman to reach the Supreme Court as a Judge. Owing to her father’s transferrable job, Justice Ruma Pal went to six schools! She is an alumnus of Shantiniketan and Oxford8.

However, in Justice Ruma Pal’s own words, it was by accident that she chose to study Law. She wanted to become a doctor, but owing to her weak eyesight she could not realise her ambition. Justice Ruma Pal (maiden name Ghosh) was the only female law student in Nagpur University in the early 1960s9. When Justice Ruma Pal applied for admission at Dr Ambedkar Law College which is directly under Nagpur University, the then principal dissuaded her saying it will be “difficult to sit with boys”! While pursuing law in the University, Justice Pal had to face the conservative atmosphere synonymous with those times. She used to sit alone on her desk while the male students were asked to move to the back seats10.

Justice Pal started her legal practice in 1968 in Civil, Revenue, Labour and Constitutional matters in the Calcutta High Court. She was later appointed Judge in the Calcutta High Court on 06-08-199011. On Supreme Court of India’s Golden Jubilee, Justice Pal was appointed as Judge, Supreme Court i.e., on 28-01-2000. She is also one of the trustees of a non-profit organisation Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access (IDIA)12. Justice Ruma Pal has also been credited with the editing of Constitutional Law by MP Jain, a book that is widely considered an authority on the constitutional law13.

Justice Ruma Pal was the only female Judge in the Calcutta High Court during her entire 10 -year tenure14. She was also the first woman Judge to be a member of Supreme Court Collegium15.

Significant Decisions by Justice Ruma Pal

Justice Ruma Pal was part of the 11- Judge Constitution Bench case of T.M.A. Pai Foundation v. State of Karnataka, (2002) 8 SCC 481, where she delivered a partly dissenting opinion on meaning and content of the expression ‘minorities’ in Art. 30 of the Constitution. She stated that, “whether a group is a minority or not must be determined in relation to the source and territorial application of the particular legislation against which protection is claimed”.

In relation to Art. 30 and Secularism, Justice Ruma Pal stated that, “The Indian Constitution does not unlike the United States, subscribe to the principle of non-interference of the State in religious organisations but it remains secular in that it strives to respect all religions equally, the equality being understood in its substantive sense”.

In Pradeep Kumar Biswas v. Indian Institute of Chemical Biology, (2002) 5 SCC 111, Justice Ruma Pal was part of the 7-Judge Constitution Bench which deliberated over the scope of “State” as per Art. 12 and 13(2) of the Constitution.

Justice Gyan Sudha Misra16

Justice Gyan Sudha Misra was born 28-04-1949, in an illustrious family of Lawyers and Judges. Having drawn inspiration from her family, Justice Misra joined the legal profession after obtaining Graduate Degree in Law and Post Graduate Degree in Political Science from the Patna University.

Justice Misra got enrolled as an Advocate in the Bihar State Bar Council of India in November 1972 at a time when the legal profession for women in India was rather uncommon and the profession was primarily considered to be a male bastion. However, her determination, perseverance, zeal and hard work came to her assistance when she started her training in the Supreme Court of India at New Delhi in 1973 in order to be able to appear in the Advocate on Records’ Examination held by the Supreme Court of India, which she passed with flying colours.

She represented the State of Bihar in the matter of Ganga Pollution Control Board as also the well- known Bhagalpur Blinding cases, in which important issues relating to violation of human rights came up for consideration. Justice Misra had also been appointed as a Member of the Fact- Finding Committee constituted by the Supreme Court of India in the year 1991 in the matter of Bandhua Mukti Morcha to examine the plight of the bonded child labourers who were engaged in the Carpet Manufacturing Industry in Uttar Pradesh.

In recognition of her services and standing as a lawyer for more than 21 years she was appointed a Judge of the Patna High Court in the State of Bihar (India) in March, 1994 but soon thereafter was transferred to the High Court of Rajasthan. Justice Misra was elevated as Chief Justice of the Jharkhand High Court at Ranchi in the State of Jharkhand on 13-07-2008.

While functioning as a Judge and Chief Justice of Jharkhand High Court, Justice Misra demonstrated through her judgments and orders that she is a strong believer of the principle that social justice, which is one of the objectives of the Indian Constitution.

Justice Gyan Sudha Misra became the fourth woman to be elevated as a Supreme Court Judge on 30-04-2010 and retired in 2014.

Significant decisions by Justice Gyan Sudha Misra

In Sushil Ansal v. State, (2014) 6 SCC 173, a case related to Uphaar cinema hall fire tragedy, Justice Misra approved the conviction of the appellant-accused under Sections 304-A, 337, 338 read with Section 36 of the Penal Code, 1860 and Section 14 of the Cinematograph Act, 1952. She further observed that, “Uphaar Tragedy which had virtually turned the cinema house into a pitch- dark gas chamber wherein the cinema viewers were initially trapped due to lack of sufficient space and light for exit from the cinema hall and finally 59 persons lost their lives due to asphyxiation in the catastrophe which is perhaps unparalleled in the history of the city of Delhi. This tragic incident happened due to grave lapse on the part of the appellants/respondents”.

Justice Gyan Sudha Misra along with Justice Markandey Katju in Aruna Ramachandra Shanbaug v. Union of India, (2011) 4 SCC 454, held that active euthanasia is illegal; passive euthanasia is permissible even without any supporting legislation as long as certain criteria are met; and voluntary euthanasia is permissible to the extent that a person can refuse to take life- saving medicines. However, the question regarding permissibility of refusal to take food to end one’s life, was left open.

Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai

Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai was born on 30-10-1949 to S.G. Samant, an eminent criminal lawyer17. She completed her Bachelor of Arts from the Elphinstone College in 1970 and her LL. B from the Government Law College in 1973 and joined the legal profession in 1973.

Justice Ranjana P. Desai worked as a junior in the chambers of Late Justice S.C. Pratap, before he became a Judge, where she got opportunity to appear in several civil and criminal matters.

Justice Desai was appointed as Special Public Prosecutor for preventive detention matters for the Bombay High Court in 1986 and was later appointed to the post of Chief Government Pleader, Appellate Side of the Bombay High Court in 1995. She was elevated to the Bench of Bombay High Court on 15-04-1996 and in 2011 Justice Desai became the fifth woman to be elevated as a Judge of Supreme Court of India.

Having retired from the Supreme Court in 2014, Justice Desai was appointed as- Chairperson of the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity; Chairperson of the Advance Ruling Authority [Income Tax]; Chairperson of the Delimitation Commission of India regarding delimitation report for the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir; Chairperson of the Search Committee to recommend names for the post of Chairperson and Members of the Lokpal; and Chairperson of the Press Council of India in 202218.

Significant decision by Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai

Justice Ranjana P. Desai was part of the 3 Judge Bench in People’s Union for Civil Liberties v. Union of India, (2013) 10 SCC 1, which held that in a vibrant democracy, the voter must be given an opportunity to choose none of the above (NOTA) button, which will indeed compel the political parties to nominate a sound candidate.

Delivering the judgment of the 5- Judge Constitution Bench constituted for Sarah Mathew v. Institute of Cardio Vascular Diseases, (2014) 2 SCC 62, Justice Ranjana P. Desai held that for the purpose of computing the period of limitation under Section 468 CrPC the relevant date is the date of filing of the complaint or the date of institution of prosecution and not the date on which the Magistrate takes cognizance.

Justice R. Banumathi

Justice R. Banumathi born on 20-07-1955, was the sixth woman Judge elevated to the Supreme Court. Hailing from Tamil Nadu, Justice Banumathi enrolled as an advocate in 1981 and practiced on Civil and Criminal sides in Tirupattur and District Court, Krishnagiri, Harur and mofussil courts.

She entered Tamil Nadu Higher Judicial Service in 1988 as a direct recruit ‘District Judge’ and worked as District and Sessions Judge in Coimbatore, Vellore and Principal District and Sessions Judge, Pudukottai, Madras, Tirunelveli and Salem. She also served as Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Madras and as a District Judge dealt with number of landmark cases and led One-Man Commission on Police Excess by STF in Chinnampathy village, Coimbatore District in 1995-1996.

Justice Banumathi was elevated as Judge, High Court, Madras on 03-04-2003 and later was appointed as the Chief Justice of Jharkhand High Court on 16-11-2013. She was elevated as a Judge of the Supreme Court of India on 13-08-2014.

Upon her elevation to the Supreme Court, Justice Banumathi became the second woman in approximately 13 years after Justice Ruma Pal to be a part of the Supreme Court Collegium.

Justice R. Banumathi has always been interested in continuing judicial education for Judicial Officers and strengthening Judicial Systems, she has organized various training and induction programmes for different judicial batches from time to time along with authoring “Handbook of Civil and Criminal Courts Management and use of Computers” for guidance of judicial officers and staff members.

Significant decisions by Justice R. Banumathi

In Muniasamythevar v. Dy. Superintendent Of Police, 2006 SCC OnLine Mad 306, where Justice Banumathi held that that all types of Jallikattu, bullock cart races and oxen races causing cruelty to animals must be banned by the Tamil Nadu government. She further directed the state police to ensure prevention of cruelty to animals under the guise of such entertainments.

Mukesh v. State (NCT of Delhi), (2017) 6 SCC 1, famously known as the “Nirbhaya Judgment” Justice Banumathi authored a separate concurring opinion which prescribed the death penalty for the accused. She stated that the accused’s actions fell within the ‘rarest of rare’ category.

Justice Indu Malhotra

Justice Indu Malhotra was born on 14-03-1956 in Bengaluru (then known as Bangalore), to Om Prakash Malhotra (former Senior Supreme Court advocate) and Satya Malhotra. She did her schooling from Carmel Convent School, Delhi and obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Lady Shri Ram College in 1975, and then Master’s degree in Political Science in 1977 from Delhi University. She also obtained a post-graduate Diploma in Corporate Laws & Secretarial Practice from the Indian Law Institute in 1978-79 and completed her Bachelor’s degree in law from Delhi University in 1983.

Post obtaining her law degree, Justice Malhotra was enrolled as an Advocate on 12-01-1983 with Bar Council of Delhi. She qualified the Advocate-on-Record Examination in 1988.

Justice Malhotra was awarded the Mukesh Goswami Memorial Prize for having topped the Supreme Advocates on Record Examination in 1988 and later became the 2nd woman to be designated as a Senior Advocate by the Supreme Court in 2007 after 30 years.

In 2018, the Supreme Court Collegium, recommended the name of Justice Indu Malhotra for elevation to the Supreme Court. Her recommendation was applauded by all and the sundry and was heralded by the legal fraternity as a “step in the right direction for gender diversity in the Apex Court”.

With her direct elevation to the Supreme Court, Justice Indu Malhotra became the 1st female Advocate to be directly elevated as Supreme Court Judge and the seventh female Supreme Court Judge in 70 years!

Significant decisions by Justice Indu Malhotra

The 5-Judge Constitution Bench in Joseph Shine v. Union of India, (2019) 3 SCC 39, held Section 497 IPC and Section 198(2) CrPC to be unconstitutional and violative of Articles 14, 15(1) and 21 of the Constitution. Dipak Misra, C.J., delivered the leading judgment for himself and A.M. Khanwilkar, J. While R.F. Nariman, Dr D.Y. Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, JJ., delivered their separate concurring opinions. As per the observations of Indu Malhotra, J.,

A law which deprives women of the right to prosecute is not gender neutral. Under Section 497, the wife of the adulterous male, cannot prosecute her husband for marital infidelity. This provision is therefore ex facie discriminatory against women, and violative of Article 14. Section 497 as it stands today, cannot hide in the shadows against the discerning light of Article 14 which irradiates anything which is unreasonable, discriminatory, and arbitrary”.

The 5-Judge Constitution Bench in Indian Young Lawyers Assn. (Sabarimala Temple-5J.) v. State of Kerala, (2019) 11 SCC 1, by a majority of 4:1, held that not allowing entry to women of the age group of 10 to 50 years in the Sabarimala Temple is unconstitutional. The only lady Judge on the Bench, Justice Indu Malhotra, rendered a dissenting opinion. Justice Malhotra was of the view that the right to move the Supreme Court under Article 32 for violation of Fundamental Rights, must be based on a pleading that the petitioner’s personal rights to worship in the Temple have been violated. She noted that the petitioners herein did not claim to be devotees of the Sabarimala Temple and the absence of this bare minimum requirement must not be viewed as a mere technicality, but an essential requirement to maintain a challenge for impugning practices of any religious sect, or denomination.

Justice Indira Banerjee

Justice Indira Banerjee was born on 24-09-1957, She passed her Indian School Certificate Examination from Loreto House, Calcutta and graduated with History (Hons.) from Presidency College, (then affiliated to Calcutta University).

Born in a Bengali household with no prior background, inclination or interest in law, Justice Indira Banerjee’s life took a massive turn when she started interacting with Late Shri Somnath Chatterjee — a noted politician, lawyer at the time and a family friend. Young Indira’s frequent interaction with Somnath Chatterjee ignited within her a desire that wasn’t there before. She was fascinated with the idea of well- maintained crisp law books, plush and exuberant chambers. The fire having lit, Justice Banerjee took to pursuing her legal education from Calcutta University, College of Law. Justice Banerjee was the third girl child in her family, who then also became a First-Generation lawyer in her family.

She was enrolled as an Advocate on 05-07-1985 and practiced both in the Original and Appellate Sides of the Calcutta High Court. On 05-02-2002, Justice Indira Banerjee was elevated as a permanent Judge of Calcutta High Court. After 14 years of judgeship at the Calcutta High Court, Justice Banerjee was appointed as a Judge of the Delhi High Court in 2016.

On 05-04-2017, Justice Banerjee was sworn in as the second female Judge Chief Justice of Madras High Court. Justice Kanta Kumari Bhatnagar was the first CJ of Madras High Court.

After 16 years of Judgeship in the esteemed High Courts of Calcutta, Delhi and Madras, Justice Banerjee waselevated as Judge of Supreme Court on 07-08-2018 and became the eighth female Judge in the history of the Supreme Court of India.

Justice Indira Banerjee has been very vocal about the challenges faced by women in the legal profession. Shedding light on her journey and struggles in the profession, the Judge stated that in the absence of proper representation, her success was made possible only due to her own merit. Justice Banerjee has often recalled the lack of advantages coming her way because of her gender19. She is of the opinion that all women that it is a stroke of good luck if they get any benefit due to their gender, however, it is more practical not to expect anything and should rather compete and get what they want.

Significant decisions by Justice Indira Banerjee

Explaining the doctrine of precedents, the 5-judge Constitution Bench of Indira Banerjee*, Hemant Gupta*, Surya Kant, MM Sundresh and Sudhanshu Dhulia, JJ., in Trimurthi Fragrances (P) Ltd. v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2022 SCC OnLine SC 1247 held that the numerical strength of the Judges taking a particular view is not relevant, but the Bench strength is determinative of the binding nature of the Judgment.

The 5-judge Bench of Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee*, Vineet Saran, MR Shah and S. Ravindra Bhat, JJ., in Rajendra Diwan v. Pradeep Kumar Ranibala, (2019) 20 SCC 143 declared Section 13(2) of the Chhattisgarh Rent Control Act, 2011 that Act purports to confer a right of statutory Second Appeal to the Supreme Court, ultra vires the Constitution of India. The Court said that a provision which mandates the Supreme Court to consider an appeal is clearly beyond the legislative competence of the State Legislature.

Justice Hima Kohli

Born on 02-09-1959, Justice Hima Kohli grew up in Delhi. She did her schooling from St. Thomas School and graduated from St. Stephens College, University of Delhi in 1979. After getting her postgraduate degree in History from the University of Delhi, she completed her degree in Law in 1984 from the Campus Law Centre, University of Delhi.

Justice Kohli enrolled as an advocate in the Bar Council of Delhi in 1984 and started practicing at the Courts in Delhi. On 29-05-2006, Justice Kohli was appointed as an Additional Judge in the Delhi High Court she was made Permanent Judge on 29-08-2007. During her tenure as a judge in Delhi High Court, Justice Hima Kohli wrote several remarkable orders and judgments, including protecting the identity of juveniles accused of crime, calling for inquiries into the detention of prisoners who had already been granted bail etc.

Justice Hima Kohli was instrumental in passing directions to increase labs to conduct more COVID-19 tests in Delhi and to decrease the wait period for test results from three days to one day.

Justice Kohli was elevated as the Chief Justice of the Telangana High Court. She was elevated as a Judge of Supreme Court of India on 26-08-2021.

Justice Hima Kohli was the first woman Chief Justice of Telangana High Court, and the ninth woman Judge to be elevated to the Supreme Court.

Significant Decisions by Justice Hima Kohli

In Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay v. Union of India, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 1098, The 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, CJ and Hima Kohli and CT Ravikumar, JJ has referred, the matter relating to promise of freebies by political parties as a part of their election manifesto or during election speeches, to a larger Bench after observing that, “Freebies may create a situation wherein the State Government cannot provide basic amenities due to lack of funds and the State is pushed towards imminent bankruptcy. In the same breath, we should remember that such freebies are extended utilizing tax- payers money only for increasing the popularity of the party and electoral prospects.”

In Assam Public Works v Union of India20, the coram comprising of Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, C.J., and M.R. Shah, Krishna Murari, Hima Kohli and P.S. Narasimha J.J., heard a batch of petitions on 10-01-2023 pertaining to primary question whether Section 6-A of the Citizenship Act, 1955 suffers from any Constitutional infirmity.

Justice Bela M. Trivedi

Justice Bela M. Trivedi was born on 10-06-1960 at Patan, in North Gujarat. Since her father had a transferable judicial service, she did her schooling at various places. However, Justice Trivedi finished her B. Com – LL. B from the MS University, Vadodara.

As an advocate, Justice Bela Trivedi’s practice in the Gujarat High Court centered around Civil and Constitutional matters for about ten years.

On 10-07-1995, she was appointed directly as the Judge, City Civil and Sessions Court at Ahmedabad. It was a happy coincidence that her father was already working as the Judge, City Civil and Sessions Court when she was appointed. The Limca Book of Indian records has recorded the entry in their 1996 edition that, “Father – Daughter Judges in the same Court”.

Justice Bela M. Trivedi also worked in different capacities like Registrar – Vigilance in the Gujarat High Court. Justice Trivedi was also deputed as the Law Secretary of the Gujarat State Government between 2004 to 2006.

On 17-02-2011, Justice Trivedi was elevated as the Judge of Gujarat High Court. Later in June 2011 she was transferred to the Rajasthan High Court at the Jaipur Bench. In 2013, Justice Trivedi was confirmed as a Permanent Judge of the Rajasthan High Court. Three years later i.e., in February 2016, she was repatriated to the Gujarat High Court.

In August 2021, the Supreme Court Collegium while deliberating upon appointment of new Judges to the Supreme Court, recommended the name of Justice Bela M. Trivedi along with 8 other names. Subsequently, the recommendations were accepted and Justice Trivedi was elevated as Judge of Supreme Court of India in 2021.

Upon her elevation, Justice Bela M. Trivedi became the First Woman Judge from Gujarat High Court to be elevated to the Supreme Court.

Significant Decisions by Justice Bela M. Trivedi

In an important ruling on POCSO Act, the 3-judge bench of UU Lalit, Bela M. Trivedi and S. Ravindra Bhat, JJ., in Attorney General for India v. Satish, (2022) 5 SCC 545, set aside the Bombay High Court (Nagpur Bench) judgment that had acquitted the accused under Section 8 of the POCSO Act, 2012 on the ground that no direct physical contact i.e. skin to skin with sexual intent without penetration would not amount to ‘sexual assault’. Justice Bela M. Trivedi also observed that- “The most important ingredient for constituting the offence of sexual assault under Section 7 of the Act is the “sexual intent” and not the “skin to skin” contact with the child.”

In P. Ponnusamy v. State of Tamil Nadu, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 1543, wherein concern was raised regarding common deficiencies and practices adopted by trial courts during criminal trial and disposal of cases, in the absence of uniform guidelines, the three-judge bench of UU Lalit, CJ., S. Ravindra Bhat and Bela M. Trivedi, JJ. in a 2: 1 majority decision, dismissed the appeal holding that even though some High Courts and governments of States/Union Territories had delayed in adopting the Draft Rules of Criminal Practice, 2020 (Draft Rules), it cannot prejudice the right of an accused which had already been recognized by this Court in its final order dated 20-04-2021. Justice Bela M. Trivedi gave a dissenting opinion.

Justice B.V. Nagarathna

Justice Bangalore Venkataramiah Nagarathna was born on 30-10-1962. She is the daughter of the late Chief Justice of India, E. S. Venkataramiah. She attended the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in New Delhi for her formal education. She graduated from Jesus and Mary College, University of Delhi, with a B.A. in history in 1984. Later, she went on to the Campus Law Center, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi, where she obtained a law degree.

Justice Nagarathna became a member of the Karnataka Bar Council in 1987 and worked as a constitutional and commercial lawyer in Bangalore, until being chosen on 18-02-2008, to serve as an Additional Judge of the Karnataka High Court.

In February 2010, Justice Nagarathna was selected to serve as a Permanent Judge. She was appointed to the Supreme Court of India on August 26, 2021, and took the oath of office on August 31, 2021.

On 25-09-2027, Justice B.V. Nagarathna is expected to become 54th and the First Woman Chief Justice of India. If this scenario materialises, then Justice Nagarathna will hold the post for 36 days.

Significant Decisions by Justice B.V. Nagarathna

In Kaushal Kishor v. State of Uttar Pradesh, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 6, A Constitution Bench of S Abdul Nazeer, AS Bopanna, BR Gavai, V Ramasubramanian & BV Nagarathna, JJ, has delivered verdict on the issue relating to freedom of speech of public functionaries and whether the right to life and personal liberty of citizens impedes the same and has ruled against imposing further restrictions on freedom of speech of Ministers. B.V. Nagarathna, J, while agreeing with the reasoning and conclusions arrived at by the majority on certain questions referred, went on to lend a ‘different perspective’ on some issues by way of separate opinion.

In Vivek Narayan Sharma v. Union of India, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 1, the Constitution Bench of S. Abdul Nazeer, B.R Gavai*, A.S. Bopanna, V. Ramasubramanian, B.V. Nagarathna**, JJ. has upheld the Centre’s 2016 demonetisation scheme in a 4:1 majority and held that demonetisation was proportionate to the Union’s stated objectives and was implemented in a reasonable manner. While Gavai, J., wrote the majority opinion for himself and SA Nazeer, A.S. Bopanna, V. Ramasubramanian, JJ; Nagarathna, J., was the lone dissenter who held that though demonetisation was well-intentioned and well thought of, the manner in which it was carried out was improper and unlawful.

Miles to Go….

Women judges bring a different set of experiences and influences which then shape their thinking and is reflected in their reasoning in the judgments. Bringing different perspectives and diverse reasoning on the bench creates greater public trust and confidence because it is more reflective of the composition of society21.

: Justice Ayesha Malik, Judge, Supreme Court of Pakistan

Since the inception of Supreme Court of India in 1950, total 266 Judges have traversed its halls and among these 266 Judges, there have been only 11 women Judges so far. The gender gap is visibly too wide. Where it is a matter of pride and optimism that 11 women made it to the Supreme Court; it is also a matter of deep introspection that so far only 11 women have made it this far. Issues around this wide gender gap has been getting traction for quite some time. Not only that, but overall participation and representation of women in judicial ecosystem has become topic of deliberations amongst the high and mighty of the legal echelons.

Currently, out of 34 Judges there are only 3 sitting women Judges in the Supreme Court and so far, there has been no woman Chief Justice of India. There is a hope that in 2027, Justice Nagarathna may break that barrier and go on to become the First Woman Chief Justice of India, but she will have a tenure of just 36 days!

Another year, another International Woman’s Day, and another reminder of this gaping gender gap in India’s Apex Court. The glass ceiling has developed cracks, but it needs more to shatter completely. With this hope, that one day we will be writing a completely different story on gender representation, we hope that you draw motivation from the stories of these 11 wonder women and we wish you all a happy International Women’s Day.

कौन कहता है कि आसमां में सुराख नहीं हो सकता,

एक पत्थर तो तबीयत से उछालो यारों…!

: Dushyant Kumar

1. Demolition of The Berlin Wall in 1989, was one of the most important event in global history. The Wall which divided East Germany and West Germany and became the most famous symbol of the Cold War, was finally opened after the Peaceful Revolution and was later demolished, thereby making way for the unification of Germany and taking step towards ending the Cold War.

2. Former Chief Justices and Judges, Supreme Court of India

3. Justice M. Fathima Beevi, Feminism in India

4. Justice M. Fathima Beevi, Feminism in India

5. Know Thy Judge | Justice M. Fathima Beevi, SCC Online Blog

6. Justice Sujata V. Manohar, Bombay High Court

7. Justice Sujata V. Manohar, Bombay High Court

8. Exclusive Interview with Justice Ruma Pal, NUJS Newsroom

9. Exclusive interview of Justice Ruma Pal, NUJS Newsroom

10. “Faced discrimination while pursuing law”- Justice Ruma Pal, The Times of India

11. Justice Ruma Pal, NALSA

12. Idea behind IDIA

13. Exclusive Interview with Justice Ruma Pal, NUJS Newsroom

14. Exclusive Interview with Justice Ruma Pal, NUJS Newsroom

15. SC Collegium gets its first woman Judge after a decade, The Leaflet

16. Justice Gyan Sudha Misra, Jharkhand High Court

17. Former Chief Justices and Judges, Supreme Court of India

18. Chairperson, Justice Ranjana P. Desai, Press Council of India

19. “Women should compete and get it”- Justice Indira Banerjee, Indian Legal Reporter

20. Writ Petition (Civil) 274 of 2009

21. Importance of Women in Judiciary, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

Must Watch

maintenance to second wife

bail in false pretext of marriage

right to procreate of convict

Criminology, Penology and Victimology book release

Join the discussion

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.