India’s oldest high court gets its first woman CJ

Manjula Chellur sworn in as Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata | Published: August 6, 2014 4:38:58 am
New Chief Justice Dr Manjula Chellur on way to the oath-taking ceremony, at Calcutta High Court, on Tuesday. Subham Dutta New Chief Justice Dr Manjula Chellur on way to the oath-taking ceremony, at Calcutta High Court, on Tuesday. Subham Dutta

Justice Dr Manjula Chellur was Tuesday sworn in as the first woman Chief jJustice of Calcutta High Court — the oldest high court in the country.

Governor KN Tripathi administered her the oath of office at the High Court in the presence of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. In her speech, Dr Chellur said it was an honour for her to serve the state. She prayed to God to give her the strength to carry out her duties in a proper fashion. “Upholding justice is of utmost importance to any person holding this position,” she said. She also sought the help of members of the bar association.

Justice Chellur, who was till now the Chief Justice of Kerala High Court, also expressed her gratitude to the Chief Justice of India for reposing faith in her to head the High Court at Calcutta. Dr Chellur replaced Justice Arun Mishra who had been elevated to the Supreme Court.

She said that she was slightly sad two months ago when she learned that she would have to leave Kerala. But, she added, she was was excited as well because as a schoolgirl, she had heard stories from her father about the spirit and vibrancy of Bengal. “The National

Anthem was born here. I have been fascinated by the works of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, especially Devdas and Parineeta,” she said.

Besides Mamata, Speaker Biman Banerjee and state Law minister Chandrima Bhattacharya were present at the function.

There was a huge rush among the lawyers practising at the High Court to witness the function, but the Chief Justice’s court room, where oath-taking ceremonies are traditionally held, could not accommodate them all.

Such was the eagerness to enter the room that a glass pane on the main door broke under pressure.

Born on December 5, 1955, Justice Chellur broke the gender barrier on a number of occasions, starting from being the first lady advocate to practice at Bellary in Karnataka.

Chellur was directly selected and appointed as the first lady District and Sessions Judge in 1988.

She was appointed as the first lady judge of Karnataka High Court, Bangalore in February 2000. She became the Acting Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court in November 2011 and was sworn-in as the Chief Justice on September 26, 2012.

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