New Delhi: The presence of three women judges in the Supreme Court for the first time since Independence found a mention in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech on the occasion of the 72nd Independence day.
“Now, in a first, there are three women judges in the Supreme Court,” Modi said from the ramparts of the Red Fort.
Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra was present on the occasion, and the television visuals showed him smiling at the reference made by the Prime Minister.
With the swearing-in of Justice Indira Banerjee on 7 August, the Supreme Court now, for the first time in its history, has three sitting women judges. Justice Banerjee is the eighth woman judge to be appointed to the apex court since Independence. Before her, senior advocate Indu Malhotra was appointed as the seventh woman judge to the Supreme Court.
Malhotra was the first senior woman advocate to be directly appointed as a judge to the apex court. Among the three sitting women judges, Justice R Banumathi is the senior most. She was elevated to the apex court on 13 August 2014.
The first woman judge of the apex court was Justice Fathima Beevi, who was appointed to the top court in 1989, 39 years after it was set up in 1950.
She was elevated to the apex court after her retirement as a judge of the Kerala High Court. The second woman judge to be appointed to the top court was Justice Sujata V Manohar, who started her career as a judge of the Bombay High Court and rose to become the chief justice of the Kerala High Court.
She was elevated to the apex court, where she remained from 8 November 1994 till 27 August 1999.
Justice Ruma Pal followed Justice Manohar after a gap of around five months and went on to become the longest serving woman judge in the apex court, from 28 January 2000 to 2 June 2006.
After her retirement, it took four years to appoint the next woman judge to the top court. Justice Gyan Sudha Misra was elevated to the Supreme Court from the Jharkhand High Court, where she was the chief justice. Her tenure in the apex court was from 30 April 2010 to 27 April 2014.
During Justice Misra’s stint, she was joined by Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai, who served in the apex court between 13 September 2011 and 29 October 2014.
These two judges created history by holding court together as an all-women bench for a day in 2013. After the retirement of Justice Desai on 29 October 2014, Justice Banumathi was the lone woman judge in the apex court till the appointment of Justice Malhotra on 27 April this year.