Saturday, February 4, 2023

Third-ever: Supreme Court of India to have all-woman Bench today

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As the year reached its fag end, the first day of the last month in 2022 became historic of sorts for the Indian Judiciary, as the Supreme Court witnessed an all-woman Bench on Thursday, making December 1 as third such occasion in the country.

The Bench, which sat at Court number 11 at 10:30 am today, is set to take up 32 matters, including 10 transfer petitions related to matrimonial disputes and 10 bail matters.

On Wednesday, Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud had set up the Bench comprising Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Bela M. Trivedi.

History was ‘accidentally’ created in 2013, as Judge Justice Aftab Alam, presiding Judge of a three-Judge Apex Court Bench, could not attend the proceedings, making it an all-woman Bench of Justice Gyan Sudha Misra and Ranjana Prakash Desai.

On September 6, 2018, Justice R. Banumathi and Justice Indira Banerjee held hearing as the first actual all-woman Apex Court Bench of the country.

Currently, the Supreme Court has three women judges, which include Justice Kohli, Justice Trivedi and Justice B.V. Nagarathna. 

While Justice Kohli will retire in September 2024, Justice Trivedi will hold office until June 2025. Justice Nagarathna is set to become the first woman Chief Justice of India in 2027.

The Supreme Court now has a working strength of 27 judges against a sanctioned strength of 34. The vacancy will rise to eight next month with Justice S Abdul Nazeer retiring on January 4, 2023. Next year will also see seven more Judges, besides Justice Nazeer, completing their tenure.

From the first woman Justice in the Supreme Court, Justice Fathima Beevi, who was appointed on October 6, 1989, India has come a long way, having 11 Justices in the Apex Court.

Six years after Justice Fatima Beevi, Justice Sujata V Manohar was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1994. Justice Manohar was previously the first woman Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court.

Justice Manohar was followed by Justice Ruma Pal, Justice Gyan Sudha Misra, Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai, Justice R. Banumathi, Justice Indu Malhotra and Justice Indira Banerjee.

The three sitting women Judges in the Apex Court right now are Justice Indira Banerjee, Justice Hima Kohli, Justice Bela M. Trivedi and Justice B.V. Nagarathna. 

They were sworn-in on September 2, 2021. The tenure of then Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana witnessed the highest strength of serving women SC judges of four, including the above three and Justice Indira Banerjee.

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