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JUSTICE LEILA Seth (retired), the first woman chief justice of a high court in the country, died on Friday night. She was 86. “She died of cardiac seizure last night,” her son Shantum Seth said. Seth would be known for scaling many peaks in the legal field. The first woman to have topped the London Bar exam, she was the first woman judge of Delhi High Court, and also the first woman chief justice of a state high court — Himachal Pradesh.
Shantum, whose brother is acclaimed writer Vikram Seth, said that Seth had fractured her hip and had undergone a surgery at Apollo Hospitals about three weeks ago. She was discharged a week later, but her condition remained fragile.
Seth was one of the three members of the Justice Verma Committee that was constituted after the December 16, 2012 Delhi gangrape to recommend amendments to the criminal law.
An acclaimed author, Seth’s autobiography, ‘On Balance’, was a bestseller.
Expressing his condolences, PM Narendra Modi tweeted, “Saddened by the passing away of Justice Leila Seth. Her remarkable contribution to the legal field will be remembered.” Expressing grief, Vice-President Hamid Ansari said that Seth “blazed a trail for women in the legal field and will be long remembered for her commitment to protect human rights in India”.