Senior Advocate Indu Malhotra will be the first woman lawyer to be directly elevated from the Bar to the Supreme Court as a judge. Her name was cleared unanimously by the Supreme Court Collegium which met Wednesday.
The five-member Collegium, comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, also recommended elevation of Uttarakhand Chief Justice K M Joseph to the Supreme Court.
The elevation of Malhotra and Joseph, as and when approved by the Centre, will take the strength of judges in the Supreme Court to 27 as against the sanctioned 31.
Malhotra will be the seventh woman judge since Independence to make it to the Supreme Court. At present, Justice R Banumathi, appointed in August 2014, is the lone woman judge in the apex court and will retire in July 2020.
Malhotra comes from a family of lawyers. Her father O P Malhotra was a Senior Advocate and her elder brother and sister too are lawyers.
Her first tryst with fame was in August 2007 when the Supreme Court designated her as Senior Advocate, only the second woman to be elevated by the Supreme Court. The first was Leila Seth, mother of author Vikram Seth, in 1977.
A postgraduate in political science, Malhotra graduated in law from Delhi University and joined the legal profession in 1983. She specialised in the law of arbitration and co-authored books on the subject. Recently, Malhotra served on a ten-member committee, headed by retired Supreme Court judge B N Srikrishna, which was tasked to review the institutionalisation of arbitration mechanism and suggest reforms. The committee submitted its report to the government last August, calling for creation of an Arbitration Promotion Council of India.
Malhotra is trustee of the NGO Save Life Foundation which moved the apex court for a law to protect good samaritans who help road accident victims. Last November, a three-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by the CJI, had appointed her as amicus curiae in a case in which it had decided to re-examine an order of a two-judge bench which said arrests in dowry harassment cases must be done only with the consent of family welfare committees set up in each district.
Justice Joseph, recommended for elevation to the Supreme Court by the Collegium, was part of the bench which in 2016 had quashed imposition of President’s Rule in Uttarakhand. He was appointed permanent judge of the Kerala High Court in 2004. He was later transferred to Uttarakhand High Court where he assumed charge in 2014 as Chief Justice.
The Collegium also promoted five judges as Chief Justices of High Courts. Justice Aniruddha Bose of Calcutta High Court has been recommended for the post of Chief Justice of Delhi High Court. Justice Surya Kant of Punjab and Haryana High Court will move to Himachal Pradesh as Chief Justice while Justice J Bhattacharya of Calcutta High Court has been confirmed as Chief Justice of the same court.
Justice Thottathil B Radhakrishnan, currently with the Chhattisgarh High Court, will be the new Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court. Justice Abhilasha Kumari of Gujarat High Court will be Chief Justice of Manipur High Court while Justice Antony Dominic, currently acting Chief Justice of Kerala High Court, will be its Chief Justice.
Justice Ajay Rastogi of Rajasthan High Court will move to Tripura High Court where the present Chief Justice will demit office next month.