The Supreme Court collegium on Tuesday, August 17th released nine names for appointment in the top courts, including three women judges ﹘ Justice BV Nagarathna of the Karnataka High Court, Justice Hima Kohli of the Telangana High Court, and Justice Bela Trivedi of the Gujarat High Court.
Among the three women, the one whose candidacy is generating the most buzz is Justice BV Nagarathna of the Karnataka High Court who, if elevated, could become India’s first woman Chief Justice in 2027. She had previously served as a temporary judge at the Karnataka High Court in 2008 and assumed permanent status two years later. She is also the daughter of ES Venkataramiah, who served as the Chief Justice of India in 1989.
Justice Hima Kohli of the Telangana High Court previously served as a judge at the Delhi High Court in 2006 and in 2021 became the first woman Chief Justice of the Telangana High Court.
Justice Bela Trivedi, presently working as a judge in the Gujarat High Court, is known for her straightforward attitude. She recently slammed the Gujarat government over a COVID-19 speciality hospital fire that killed 18 people. She remarked, “It amounts to contemptuous action on the part of the state for not being vigilant so that such incidents are not repeated again and again (sic).”
The other big names in the list released by the collegium include MM Sundresh, a judge at the Kerala High Court, Abhay Shreeniwas Oka, Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court, Jitendra Kumar Maheshwari, Chief Justice of the Sikkim High Court, and Vikram Nath, Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court.
Chief Justice Ramana, the current Chief Justice of India has also stated, in the past, that it was time for a woman to head the judiciary.
It’s About Time Women Had A Seat In The Judiciary
This is definitely a big win for women not only in India, but all around the world. To see a woman donning the hat of India’s Chief Justice is the beginning of a new era that would help elevate women’s representation in a domain that is heavily male-dominated. Having more women in powerful positions will provide a more nuanced perspective of governance and laws, especially ones that cater to women and minorities.
A lot of great women judges have come along through the history of Independent India. Leila Seth, a formidable personality and the first woman judge of the Delhi High Court also became the first woman Chief Justice (Himachal Pradesh HC). She led various humanitarian judicial cases, such as judgements around women’s inheritance rights over ancestral property in the Hindu Succession Act (1956). She was also part of the three-member Justice Verma Commission and was charged to re-evaluate rape laws in India after the 2012 Delhi gang-rape case.
Just like her, there were many women deserving of the title of CJI, but it took us 75 years to decide to put a woman on that chair.
Justice BV Nagarathna’s appointment as the CJI would mark a historical moment for the Indian judiciary, and a new beginning for a justice system that is free of the patriarchy.
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