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BriefCase : The Woman Who Took The Nirbhaya Case Lawyers To Task

Posted: October 1, 2015

From getting the the Nirbhaya case lawyers to apologise over their comments in India’s Daughter to being President of the Supreme Court Women Lawyers Association, Mahalakshmi Pavani has huge achievements to her credit.

In this series, BriefCase, we will be meeting women at work in different fields, different roles, to gain insight into their lives and work. With more women joining (or aspiring to) join the paid workforce, we live in exciting times, and this is an attempt to chronicle those times, one life at a time.

Mahalakshmi Pavani, a Senior Advocate, is also the first lady from Karnataka designated by the Full Court of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. While she was attending the rent control proceedings and defending her mother’s case,  little did she know that she would find her true calling in law. She got deeply engrossed in the proceedings, which involved evicting tenants and this changed the course of her life. Since then there has been no turning back for Mahalakshmi and she has safely secured a favourable place in the field of law.

She has achieved many milestones in her career and has left no stone unturned in using her power to help women. She desires to use her expertise in uplifting the downtrodden women and in making them aware of their legal rights. She is popularly recognized for her immense efforts to bring women-related issues to the fore. A petition was filed through her that sought courts direction to the Nirbhaya case lawyers, M.L. Sharma and A.P. Singh, to issue a public apology for their derogatory statements in the BBC documentary India’s Daughter on the December 16 gang rape case. She defeated veteran lawyer Indira Jaising during the election for a woman member on the Gender Sensitisation Committee. She also appeared as a learned counsel for Rahul Gandhi in relation to a defamation proceeding.

She’s in the forefront when it comes to social causes too. She is the President of the SCWLA (Supreme Court Women Lawyers Association) and they are working together to curb the high levels of pollution in Delhi due to toxic gases emitted by heavy vehicles. Her list of achievements are endless and we are sure she has miles to go and has a lot more to achieve.

How would you describe yourself?

Mahalakshmi Pavani: I am sincere and dedicated towards my work and passionate about my profession. I desire to excel and work towards the upliftment of downtrodden and oppressed women and make them aware of their Legal Rights.

Why did you choose this field?

Mahalakshmi Pavani: I stumbled into it by default.  I was attending rent control proceedings and defending my mother’s case and trying to evict tenants and finally succeeded. The lawyer noticed that I was very inquisitive and prepared the questionnaire myself for cross examining the witness. Eventually I found my calling in law and enrolled for my 5-year law course, discontinuing my 1st year of B.Sc. from Mount Carmel College.

Describe your role so that it is understandable to someone who knows nothing about your industry.

Mahalakshmi Pavani: I do all kinds of litigation work in the Supreme Court. I defend the litigant.

What is the most exciting aspect of your role and your field?

Mahalakshmi Pavani: Getting justice from court gives an all-time high. Fighting for various issues which demand the attention. and getting relief for the litigants also gives me satisfaction. I am happy when the client is satisfied and feels that yes, there is justice after all!

What is the most challenging aspect of your role?     

Mahalakshmi Pavani: Fighting for the case because clients think we are Gods. After losing in the courts below, clients feel that they will get justice in the highest court.  It is very difficult to convince the Hon’ble Supreme Court that the courts below have delivered judgment on erroneous findings and  based on knowledge and expertise, if I am able to convince the court that the matter needs to be looked into, it is an achievement.

What is the most common misconception about your field?

Mahalakshmi Pavani: People feel there is delay in the legal system but delay occurs only because of the litigant himself, as he is the one who authorises his advocate to take adjournments. If the advocate is efficient and advises his client properly and opposes adjournments I am sure there will be no delay. It is always incumbent on the advocate not to drag the matter and give good counsel to his client to settle the matter. Normally advocates don’t want their clients to settle which is not good.

If you had to change one thing about your field, what would it be?

Mahalakshmi Pavani: To ensure speedy justice to the poor and the needy.

Diana has worked as an Editor/Writer and Content Manager for various digital platforms and

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  1. Great achievement….!

  2. Pingback: BriefCase : The Woman Who Took The Nirbhaya Case Lawyers To Task | Diana's Musings

  3. Great achievement and learning’s to others especially for women.

  4. very inspiring and nice to know of women lawyers who are working for women, thanks Diana for posting this article !

  5. Well written article. It feels very good to know that there are women in the legal arena who are doing all hings that are in their power to make the world a better place for women.

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