The Supreme Court will have an all-woman bench on Thursday, perhaps only the third time in its history.
Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud on Wednesday set up the bench comprising Justices Hima Kohli and Bela M Trivedi.
The first time the Supreme Court had an all-woman bench was in 2013, when Justices Gyan Sudha Misra and Ranjana Prakash Desai sat together.
The second occasion came in 2018, when Justices R Banumathi and Indira Banerjee shared a bench on September 5.
The bench of Justices Kohli and Trivedi has 32 matters listed before it, starting with 10 transfer petitions involving matrimonial disputes and followed by 10 bail matters.
The apex court currently has only three women judges: Justices Kohli, B V Nagarathna, and Trivedi. While Justice Kohli has a tenure until September 2024, Justice Trivedi will hold office until June 2025. Justice Nagarathna is set to go on to be the country’s first woman Chief Justice 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 set to retire on January 4, 2023. Next year will also see seven more judge, besides Justice Nazeer, completing their tenure.
The apex court had its first woman judge in 1989, when Justice M Fatima Beevi was appointed after her retirement as a judge of Kerala High Court. She was followed by Justices Sujatha Manohar, Ruma Pal, Gyan Sudha Misra, Ranjana Prakash Desai, R Banumathi, Indu Malhotra, Indira Banerjee, Kohli, Nagarathna and Trivedi. The last three were sworn-in on the same day — September 2, 2021 — during the tenure of then Chief Justice of India N V Ramana, taking the number of serving women judges to a historic four, including Justice Banerjee.
Justice Banerjee retired on September 23 this year.
Justice Kohli was Chief Justice of Telangana HC before her elevation to the apex court. Justice Trivedi was a judge of Gujarat HC before her elevation to SC.