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How Did India’s First Woman Lawyer, Indu Malhotra, Directly Become A Supreme Court Judge!

Justice Indu Malhotra, the first woman lawyer rose above the bar to directly become a Supreme Court judge! And this was just the beginning!

Women have been creating history and raising the bar for centuries. One of those women, Indu Malhotra, the first woman lawyer in India, not only raised the bar but rose above the bar and directly became a supreme court judge, becoming the first woman in India to do so.

How did this happen? What is the story of Justice Indu Malhotra? Let’s know in detail about India’s first female lawyer who directly became a Supreme Court judge.

Indu Malhotra, the first woman lawyer, broke the barriers!

The field of law has been a great platform for women over the years. Women have proved to be the heroes of justice, be it Arundhati Katju and Menaka Guruswamy in the fight against section 377 or Karuna Nundy, who fought for seeking justice for the victims of the 1984 Bhopal Gas Tragedy.

Justice Indu Malhotra proved to be the cape bearer of justice when she was appointed as the judge of the supreme court. She was elevated directly from the bar, becoming the first woman to do so.

Justice Indu Malhotra’s first accomplishment- Mukesh Goswami Memorial Prize

One of the very best and most outspoken lawyers, Indu Malhotra came from a law background, daughter of Om Prakash Malhotra, a Supreme Court senior advocate and author, and Satya Malhotra.

After completing her degree in political science from Lady Sri Ram College, Delhi University, she briefly worked as a lecturer in political science at Miranda House.

In 1982, she completed her Bachelor of Laws degree from the Campus Law Centre of the Faculty of Law, University of Delhi.

Indu Malhotra enrolled with the Bar Council Of Delhi in 1983. In 1988 she qualified as an advocate-on-record in the Supreme Court- and secured the first position in the examination.

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She was awarded the Mukesh Goswami Memorial Prize on National Law Day. It becomes the first of her many accomplishments to come.

Indu Malhotra first woman lawyer in India to be directly designated in Supreme Court

Before becoming the first woman to be directly designated as a judge in the Supreme court and marking her name in history, she was also the second woman advocate to be designated by the Supreme Court after a gap of over 30 years, in 2007.

She served as legal counsel in the Supreme Court for 30 years. The Supreme Court collegium led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra unanimously recommended the name Indu Malhotra for appointment as a Supreme Court judge.

Her appointment was confirmed and ordered by the Government on 26 April 2018. Justice Malhotra became the first woman judge to be elevated directly from the Bar.

Important cases and works of Justice Indu Malhotra 

In her three year tenure, Justice Indu Malhotra has appeared in some important cases. She was part of a Constitution bench constituted to decide the entry of women to Kerala’s Sabarimala temple, the validity of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and the validity of Section 497 of the IPC.

Justice Malhotra was also part of some crucial decisions concerning arbitration. She penned a judgment for a three-judge bench holding that the enforcement of foreign awards did not violate India’s public policy, or that it was contrary to the basic notions of justice.

Alongside appearing on these cases, Justice Malhotra has also authored ‘Commentary on the Law and Practice of Arbitration in India’ (2014).

She is also on the board of trustees of SaveLIFE Foundation and represented the NGO in case, which aims to prevent traffic accidents and formulate a system for providing an immediate post-accident response to save the life of victims of traffic accidents.

Retirement after her short but remarkable 3-year tenure as SC Judge

Her Lordship Justice Indu Malhotra Retired on 21 march 2021 after her 3-year tenure as an SC Judge.

In her farewell speech, she said:

“Even if it was a short three-year tenure, I leave this court with a great sense of fulfilment.”

Moreover, Justice Indu Malhotra shared her hope that her serving on the bench of the Supreme Court would pave the way for many more women to be elevated from the bar.

Her appointment paved the way for many female lawyers in India. It not only made history but gave many women pursuing the profession hope and courage to follow their dreams and bring changes for a bigger and better India.

Justice Indu Malhotra, the first woman lawyer in India, created history, but her achievement set the bar for thousands more women.

Image credits: Tribune India and Wikipedia

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Mrigya Rai

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