“Independence of the judiciary is not just a legal principle but a fundamental pillar of a vibrant democracy. The Indian judiciary has shown remarkable resilience and determination in maintaining its independence and integrity and discharging its constitutional duties”1
– Justice Hima Kohli
Born on 02-09-1959, Justice Hima Kohli was brought up in Delhi. She did her schooling from St. Thomas School and graduated in History (Hons.) 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.2
As an Advocate
Justice Kohli enrolled as an advocate in the Bar Council of Delhi in 1984 and started practicing at the Courts in Delhi. She joined the chambers of. Sunanda Bhandare who was later elevated to the position of Delhi High Court Judge. On the recommendation of Justice Sunanda Bhandare, she joined the chamber of Y.K. Sabharwal. She then worked at the Chambers of Vijendra Jain till he himself was elevated as Judge of Delhi High Court in 1992 and then continued her practice independently.3
✥ Did you know? All the three lawyers Justice Kohli worked with, i.e.,. Sunanda Bhandare,. Y.K. Sabharwal and. Vijendra Jain, became High Court judges while she was working with them.4
In 1999, she was appointed as Standing Counsel for the New Delhi Municipal Council at the Delhi High Court. She held this position until she was appointed as Additional Standing Counsel Civil for the Government of NCT Delhi in 2004. She was also the Legal Advisor to various government and private corporations including Delhi Pollution Control Committee, the National Agricultural Co-operative Marketing Federation of India, and the National Co-operative Development Corporation. She also provided legal aid services with the Delhi High Court Legal Services Committee.5
✥ Did you know? During her practice, she worked with Dr. Justice M.K Sharma before he became the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court. He guided her through her first few judgements.6
As a Judge
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- 2007.7 During her tenure as a judge in Delhi High Court, she 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, provision of facilities to enable visually challenged people to study in government educational institutions, etc.
✥ Did you know? 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.8
✥ Did you know? Justice Hima Kohli was the First woman Chief Justice of High Court for the State of Telangana.12
Justice Hima Kohli has also been deeply involved with legal education and legal aid in India. In 2017, she was on the General Council of the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, in Kolkata. She also served on the council for the National Law University, New Delhi. She became the chairperson of the Delhi State Legal Services Authority from 20-04-2020.13
Apart from performing her official duties as a Judge, she has a keen interest in promoting mediation as a mode of alternative dispute resolution; in highlighting the role of the judiciary in preservation of the ecology and environment and role of Family Courts in resolving family disputes. She has participated in and presented papers at several National and International symposiums and conferences on these subjects.14
Notable Judgements at Supreme Court
Retired employees cannot claim vested right to apply the extended age of retirement retrospectively
In an appeal filed by the members of the teaching faculty (appellants) in Homeopathic Medical Colleges situated in the State of Kerala, against the Judgment passed by the Kerala High Court, declining the prayer of the appellants for enhancing their age of retirement from 55 years to 60 years by extending the benefit of the Government Order dated 14-01-2010 , which increased the retirement age of Doctors in the Medical category with retrospective effect from 1-05-2009, the division bench of Hima Kohli* and Rajesh Bindal, JJ. while upholding the impugned judgment, has held that the retired employees cannot claim a vested right to apply the extended age of retirement to them retrospectively and assume that by virtue of the enhancement in age ordered by the State at a later date, they would be entitled to all the benefits including the monetary benefits flowing from GO on the ground of legitimate expectation.
“The Doctrine of Legitimate Expectation does not have any role to play in matters that are strictly governed by the service regulations. This is an exercise that is undertaken by the State in discharge of its public duties and should not brook undue interference by the Court.”
[Prakasan M.P. v. State of Kerala, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 1074]
Sexual Harassment at workplace: “Assure women safe & secure workplace or they will fear stepping out”; SC issues directions for PoSH Act implementation
With the intent to fulfil the promise that the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 [PoSH Act] holds out to working women all over the country, the bench of AS Bopanna and Hima Kohli*, JJ has issued extensive directions to ensure the implementation of the law after observing that,
“However salutary this enactment may be, it will never succeed in providing dignity and respect that women deserve at the workplace unless and until there is strict adherence to the enforcement regime and a proactive approach by all the State and non-State actors.”
[Aureliano Fernandes v. State of Goa, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 621]
[Casting Couch] Model alleges rape; Supreme Court sets aside Bombay High Court’s order granting anticipatory bail to Businessman
In a case where a model had alleged casting couch, the bench of AS Bopanna and Hima Kohli*, JJ has set aside the anticipatory bail granted to the accused after noticing that the prosecutrix was denied the meaningful right to hearing by the Bombay High Court. The Court observed that
“The nature and gravity of the alleged offence has been disregarded. So has the financial stature, position and standing of the accused vis-à-vis the appellant/prosecutrix been ignored.”
[X v. State of Maharashtra, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 279]
There is no right vested with the bidders in liquidation sale beyond the express terms of the offer documents
In a case where SCM auctions were conducted for the liquidation sale of assets of the corporate debtor, a 3-judge bench comprising of N.V. Ramana, C.J. and J.K. Maheshwari and Hima Kohli,* JJ., emphasised that the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC) and Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (Liquidation Process) Regulations, 2016 (CIRP Regulations) specify that the corporate debtor’s assets must be protected and preserved during the liquidation process before being sold at the highest price. There is no right vested with the bidders in liquidation sale beyond the express terms of the offer documents, as the liquidator may elect to undertake private sale of the assets of the corporate debtor, for maximisation of value and a higher and quicker recovery for the stakeholders, to avoid delay, and to provide a guaranteed timeline for completion of the liquidation proceedings. Purely business-based decisions cannot be interfered with in commercial transactions.
[R.K. Industries (Unit-II) LLP v. H.R. Commercials (P) Ltd., 2022 SCC OnLine SC 1124]
“Promise of Freebies by Political Parties may push State towards bankruptcy”, Says Supreme Court: 4 Issues referred to a Larger Bench
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.”
[Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay v. Union of India, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 1098,]
PM Modi Security Lapse: Justice Indu Malhotra headed Enquiry Committee submits report; Supreme Courts asks Central and Punjab Governments to take further action
After Enquiry Committee headed by Justice Indu Malhotra, former Judge of the Supreme Court of India, had submitted the report on the alleged breach of security that left Prime Minister Narendra Modi stuck on a highway in Punjab for 20 minutes on 05.01 2022, the 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, CJ and Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, JJ has sent the report to the Central and State Government for appropriate action against delinquent officers.
“War of words between them is no solution. It may rather impair the need of a robust mechanism to respond at such a critical juncture.”
[Lawyers’ Voice v. State of Punjab, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 1096]
Supreme Court directs Haryana Discoms to pay compound interest on carrying cost to Adani Power from the date of Change of Law
In a big win for Adani Power Limited, the 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, CJI and Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli*, JJ has directed Haryana Discoms to pay interest on carrying cost in favour of Adani Power for the period between the year 2014, when the FGD was installed, till the year 2021.
[Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam Ltd. v. Adani Power (Mundra) Ltd., (2023) 2 SCC 624]
Pegasus| ‘National security cannot be the bugbear that the judiciary shies away from’. The initially reluctant Supreme Court finally decides to interfere
The 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, CJ and Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, JJ has appointed an Expert Committee to look into the truth or falsity of the allegations in the Pegasus Spyware case, “taking into account the public importance and the alleged scope and nature of the large-scale violation of the fundamental rights of the citizens of the country.”
“This Court has always been conscious of not entering the political thicket. However, at the same time, it has never cowered from protecting all from the abuses of fundamental rights.”
[Manohar Lal Sharma v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 985]
Interpretation of Schedule X of the Constitution vis-à-vis Disqualification; Speaker/Governor’s powers; Judicial Review: CJI led 3-judge bench refers matter to 5-judge Constitution bench
The 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, CJI and Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli, JJ has referred the question relating to interpretation of Schedule X of the Constitution pertaining to disqualification, as well as the powers of the Speaker and the Governor and the power of judicial review thereof, to the 5-judge Constitution bench.
[Subhash Desai v. Principal Secretary, Governor of Maharashtra, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 1062]
Lack of enthusiasm of ACB, ADGP not relevant for deciding bail application of accused; SC stays Karnataka HC order against ADGP Seemant Kumar Singh
In a bail application, after the single judge Bench of Karnataka High Court criticised the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and the Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) for their lack of enthusiasm, the 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, CJ and Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli, JJ has observed that the alleged involvement of the ADGP, and the enthusiasm (or lack thereof) of the ACB officers are irrelevant and beyond the ambit of bail proceedings.
[Seemant Kumar Singh v. Mahesh PS, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 1918]
Confessional Statements made under Section 67 of NDPS Act inadmissible
In a case relating to a drug racket spread across three States namely, U.P., Punjab and Rajasthan, the 3-Judge Bench of N.V. Ramana, CJ., and Krishna Murari, Hima Kohli*, JJ., reversed the impugned order of Delhi High Court releasing the respondent-accused on post-arrest bail.
“The length of the period of his custody or the fact that the charge-sheet has been filed and the trial has commenced are by themselves not considerations that can be treated as persuasive grounds for granting relief to the respondent under Section 37 of the NDPS Act.”
[Narcotics Control Bureau v. Mohit Aggarwal, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 891]
Beyond Reasonable Doubt versus Preponderance of Probabilities: Supreme Court explains why circumstances guide the Courts in deciding Right to Private Defence cases
The bench of BR Gavai and Hima Kohli*, J has held that while deciding a case relating to right to private defence, the Court’s assessment would be guided by several circumstances including the position on the spot at the relevant point in time, the nature of apprehension in the mind of the accused, the kind of situation that the accused was seeking to ward off, the confusion created by the situation that had suddenly cropped up resulting the in knee jerk reaction of the accused, the nature of the overt acts of the party who had threatened the accused resulting in his resorting to immediate defensive action, etc.
“The underlying factor should be that such an act of private defence should have been done in good faith and without malice.”
[Mahadev v. Border Security Force, (2022) 8 SCC 502]
More than one chargesheet is necessary for invoking provisions of Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime Act, 2015
The Division Bench comprising B.R. Gavai and Hima Kohli, JJ., (Vacation Bench) reversed the order of the Gujarat High Court, by which the applicant was denied the benefit of bail under the Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime Act, 2015 (GCTOC Act). The Court held that existence of more than one charge sheet against the accused is essential for invoking the provisions of GCTOC Act.
[Mohamad Iliyas Mohamad Bilal Kapadiya v. State of Gujarat, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 713]
Amazon-Future-Reliance Dispute| SC allows Future Group to approach Delhi HC for continuation of merger deal with Reliance Group
The 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, CJ and AS Bopanna and Hima Kohli, JJ has granted liberty to Future Retail Limited (FRL) to approach the Delhi High Court by filing an application seeking continuation of the NCLT proceedings beyond the 8th Stage i.e. Meeting of Shareholders and creditors.
[Future Coupons (P) Ltd. v. Amazon.com NV Investment Holdings LLC., (2022) 6 SCC 121]
Is the Arbitration Tribunal empowered to award compound interest?
The 3-judge Bench comprising of N.V. Ramana, CJ., A.S. Bopanna and Hima Kohli*, JJ., held that Arbitral Tribunal is empowered to award interest on post award interest.
The instant appeal was filed by UHL Power Co. Ltd. against the order of the Himachal Pradesh High Court disallowing its pre-claim interest i.e., interest from the date when expenses were incurred, till the date of lodging the claim.
[UHL Power Co. Ltd. v. State of H.P., (2022) 4 SCC 116]
Can Demand of Money for Construction of a House be Treated as a Dowry Demand? SC answers in a 2002 case where a 5-months pregnant woman set herself on fire
In a case where the Madhya Pradesh High Court had held that demand of money for construction of a house cannot be treated as a dowry demand, the 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, CJ and AS Bopanna and Hima Kohli*, JJ has found the said observation erroneous and has held that the word “Dowry” ought to be ascribed an expansive meaning so as to encompass any demand made on a woman, whether in respect of a property or a valuable security of any nature.
“Dowry must first consist of any property or valuable security— the word “any” is a word of width and would, therefore, include within it property and valuable security of any kind whatsoever.”
[State of M.P. v. Jogindra, (2022) 5 SCC 401]
Sedition Law under scanner| All pending cases to be kept in abeyance; Centre/States urged not to register fresh cases till Section 124A is reviewed
In the petitions challenging the Constitutionality of Section 124-A of the Penal Code 1860 dealing with the offence of Sedition, the 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, CJ and Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, JJ has urged the State and Central Governments to restrain from registering any FIR, continuing any investigation or taking any coercive measures by invoking Section 124-A of IPC while the sedition law is under consideration.
[S.G. Vombatkere v. Union of India, (2022) 7 SCC 433]
Wife goes missing from matrimonial home; body found a week later: Circumstances unerringly point to husband’s guilt despite slipshod investigation
Despite a slipshod investigation in a case, the 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, Surya Kant and Hima Kohli*, JJ has upheld the conviction of a man guilty of killing his wife within a few months of the marriage on her failing to satisfy the demands of dowry. The deceased Fulwa Devi had gone missing from her matrimonial home and her body was found on the bank of river Barakar after a week.
[Parvati Devi v. State of Bihar, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1285]
Notable Judgements at High Court
Telangaba HC upholds single Judge Benhc order vis-à-vis opening of a new Mee-Seva Citizen Service Centre
In a case where the Collector had erred in granting permission to the respondent 7 to open a new Mee-Seva Citizen Service Center (CSC) at Bhimaram Village of Jaipur Mandal, Adilabad District, a division bench comprising of Hima Kohli,* C.J. and B. Vijaysen Reddy, J., upheld the Single Judge’s order that making another Mee-Seva center available in the area is not a decision taken without any application of mind and nor was there any political pressure for granting permission to open another Mee-Seva center.
[Mada Suryaprakash Reddy v. Prl. Secy., GAD, 2021 SCC OnLine TS 1738]
Telangana HC discusses the ambit of Section 18(4) of the MSME Act
A division bench comprising of Hima Kohli,* C.J. and B. Vijaysen Reddy, J., held that the respondent 1 does not fall within the ambit of Section 18(4) of the MSME Act and therefore, it cannot be treated as a “buyer located anywhere in India”, premised on a specious plea taken by the appellant that an individual was appointed by the respondent 1 as a Special Power of Attorney/Special Agent who happens to be a resident of New Delhi, India.
[Vaishno Enterprises v. Hamilton Medical AG, 2021 SCC OnLine TS 2470]
While religious sentiments of society must be respected, right to life & health of public at large can’t be sacrificed at altar of right to celebrate a festival: HC refuses permission to celebrate Chhat Puja at public places
A Division Bench of Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad, JJ., while addressing the instant matter observed that, “while religious sentiments of all sections of the society must be respected, the right to life and health of the public at large cannot be sacrificed at the altar of a right to celebrate a festival, however, significant it may be for a particular community.”
“This is the time to scale down to contain the infection and not to escalate the same.”
[Shri Durga Jan Seva Trust v. GNCTD, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 1456]
Is the liability of Principal Borrower and Guarantor co-extensive? Court reiterates SC’s position on continuation of SARFAESI proceedings against Guarantor by banks
A Division Bench of Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad, JJ., while considering the question whether a bank/financial institution can institute or continue with proceedings against a guarantor under the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002 (SARFAESI Act), when proceedings under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016 (IB Code) have been initiated against the principal borrower and the same are pending adjudication, found no merit in the petition and dismissed it.
[Kiran Gupta v. State Bank of India, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 1390]
Husband citizen and domicile of USA, can he raise objections on divorce proceedings filed by wife in India? Court decrypts the law in light of catena of SC’s decisions
A Division Bench of Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad, JJ., while observing a matrimonial application, observed that divorce petition filed by the respondent/wife read as a whole, does disclose a valid cause of action that can be entertained by the Family Court in India.
“The plaint must be read as a whole to determine as to whether it discloses a cause of action.”
[Karan Goel v. Kanika Goel, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 1319]
NLU-Delhi succumbs to GNCTD’s pressure | Notification providing 50% horizontal reservation to candidates having passed qualifying exam from NCT of Delhi — Stayed
A Division Bench of Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad, JJ., while addressing the matter with regard to domicile reservation policy for the candidates who have passed qualifying examination from Delhi appearing held that,
“It is well settled that when a statute provides for a thing to be done in a particular manner, it has to be done in that manner only.”
[Balvinder Sangwan v. State (NCT) of Delhi, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 674]
Adultery can only be committed after marriage, allegation of having relationship before marriage cannot be a ground of adultery; Divorce petition dismissed
A Division Bench of Hima Kohli and Asha Menon, JJ., while addressing a matrimonial appeal filed on behalf of the husband, held that,
“Adultery can only be committed after marriage, allegation of having relationship before marriage cannot be a ground of adultery.”
[Vishal Singh v. Priya, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 638]
Re-opening of country in a phased manner is not a decision, to have been taken in haste; Costs imposed on finding wastage of judicial time
The Division Bench of Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad, JJ. while dismissing a petition that challenged the MHA Notification of phased reopening of the country after nationwide lockdown, imposed a cost of Rs 20,000 due to wasting judicial time.
[Arjun Aggarwal v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 642 ]
Non-Provision of Ration | “It is most unacceptable that e-coupons have been distributed in such a large number and yet e-coupon holders are left high and dry”
A Division Bench of Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad, JJ., while dealing with the issue of non-provision of ration to e-coupon holders directed GNCTD to ensure that ration to be supplied to the said people by evening of 21-05-2020.
“Any non-compliance shall be viewed seriously.”
[Shabnam v. State (NCT) of Delhi, WP(C) No. 3205 of 2020, decided on 10-05-2020]
Second marriage of a mother is by itself not sufficient to deprive her of custody of her biological child
A Division Bench of Hima Kohli and Asha Menon, JJ. dismissed an appeal filed by the appellant-father against the judgment of the Family Court whereby his application under Section 25 of the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890 seeking custody of his minor son was rejected.
“The respondent’s remarriage can hardly be a ground for the appellant to claim that being the natural guardian of the child, he has a better right to claim his custody, over the respondent. At the end of the day, the court must examine the facts and circumstances of the case and then come to a conclusion as to whether it would be in the better interest of the minor child to remain in the custody of the father or the mother.”
[Faisal Khan v. Humera, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 572 ]
A typical case that showcases as to what would amount to cruel behaviour on part of one spouse to utter detriment of other
A Division Bench of Hima Kohli and Asha Menon, JJ., while addressing a matrimonial application stated that,
“Marriage is no doubt a sacrament, but it cannot be a one sided affair.”
Present appeal has been preferred against the Judgment of Family Court wherein the marriage between the appellant/respondent and respondent/petitioner was dissolved as the same was sought on grounds of cruelty and desertion within the meaning of Section 13(1)(i—a) and (i—b) of Hindu Marriage Act.
[Venkatesh Narasimhan v. V. Sujatha, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 571]
Student not to be deprived of fruits of labour because of unavoidable medical concerns; order granting gold medal upheld: Delhi HC
The Division Bench comprising of Hima Kohli and Rekha Palli, JJ., maintained the decision of a Single Judge in which it was decided “to award a Gold Medal to the respondent for his remarkable academic performance”, which was being denied by the appellant, i.e., Guru Gobin Singh Indraprastha University.
[Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University v. Abhinav Pandey, 2018 SCC OnLine Del 11915]
Cancellation of candidature of an IIT Qualified engineer at the final stage of induction into Civil Services held disproportionate to bonafide omission
The Division Bench comprising of Rekha Palli and Hima Kohli, JJ., allowed an appeal and set aside the order passed by Principal Bench, Central Administrative Tribunal, New Delhi concerning the cancelling of candidature for Civil Services Examination 2017 by UPSC.
“Error on the part of the petitioner could not be treated as a misrepresentation or suppression of facts.”
[Anuj Pratap Singh v. Union of India, 2018 SCC OnLine Del 10982]
* Judge who has penned the judgment.
1. Judiciary must be allowed to interpret Constitution: SC judge Hima Kohli, The Economic Times
3. Justice Hima Kohli: A Self-Made Woman in a Man’s World, Lex Insider
6. Justice Hima Kohli: A Self-Made Woman in a Man’s World, Lex Insider
8. RISE OF THE FIRST FEMALE CHIEF JUSTICE IN THE NEW STATE, Indian Law Watch.
12. RISE OF THE FIRST FEMALE CHIEF JUSTICE IN THE NEW STATE, Indian Law Watch.