In an unprecedented decision, the Supreme Court Collegium has recommended three names of women judges for appointment in the apex court which, if cleared, would give the country its first woman Chief Justice of India (CJI) in the form of Justice B V Nagarathna on February 10, 2027.
The apex court, which came into being on January 26, 1950, has seen very few women judges since its inception and in last over 71 years has appointed only eight lady judges starting from M Fathima Beevi who was made a judge in 1989.
Presently, Justice Indira Banerjee, is the lone serving woman judge in the apex court after her elevation on August 7 in 2018 from the Madras High Court where she was serving as the Chief Justice.
Besides six names including five male judges and an advocate, the five-member collegium headed by CJI N V Ramana has recommended the names of Justice Nagarathna, the third senior-most judge of the Karnataka High Court, Justice Hima Kohli, the Chief Justice of Telangana High Court and Justice Bela M Trivedi, the fifth senior-most judge of the Gujarat High Court for elevation to the apex court.
Besides the CJI, the other member of the collegium are Justices U U Lalit, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao.
Justice Nagarathna, born on October 30, 1962, is the daughter of former CJI E S Venkataramiah.
She was enrolled as an advocate on October 28, 1987 at Bangalore and practiced in the field pertaining to constitution, commerce, insurance and service etc.
She was appointed as an Additional Judge of the High Court of Karnataka on February 18, 2008 and became a permanent Judge on February 17, 2010.
She will have a tenure, on appointment as an SC judge, till October 29, 2027 and may have a tenure of nearly nine months as the first woman CJI after succeeding Justice Surya Kant who would retire as CJI on February 9, 2027.
The other woman judge, whose elevation is recommended to the Centre, is Chief Justice Hima Kohli of the Telangana High Court and her parent cadre is the Delhi High Court.
Born on September 2, 1959 in Delhi, Justice Kohli did her LL.B from the Campus Law Centre in Delhi University and was the standing counsel and Legal Advisor of the New Delhi Municipal Council in the High Court of Delhi from 1999-2004.
She was appointed as an Additional Judge of the High Court of Delhi on May 29, 2006 and took oath as a permanent Judge on August 29, 2007 and later became the Chief Justice of the Telangana High Court on January 07, 2021.
Justice Trivedi, born on June 10, 1960, is the judge of the Gujarat High Court since February 9, 2016 and belongs from the judicial service category.
Besides Fathima Beevi, who became apex court judge on October 6, 1989, seven more female judges have been appointed and they are Justices Sujata Vasant Manohar, Ruma Pal, Gyan Sudha Mishra, Ranjana Desai, R Bhanumathi, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee.
Justice Banerjee would demit office on September 23 next year.
With the retirement of Justice R F Nariman on August 12, the strength of judges in the top court had come down to 25 as against the sanctioned strength of 34, including the CJI.
Significantly, no appointment has been made after the superannuation of the then CJI Ranjan Gogoi on November 17, 2019.
The collegium has also selected senior advocate and former Additional Solicitor General P S Narasimha for direct appointment from the Bar.
One additional vacancy would arise on Wednesday, when Justice Navin Sinha retires.