For the first time in the history of Indian judiciary, the Supreme Court collegium on Thursday recommended senior advocate Indu Malhotra as the first woman lawyer to be directly appointed as a judge of the apex court.
She will be one of only seven women judges that the top court has had so far since independence. At present, Justice R Banumathi is the lone woman judge in the apex court.
Malhotra is a senior counsel practicing in the SC for the past 30 years. The second woman to be designated senior advocate by the court in 2007, she will be the first woman lawyer to be directly elevated from the Bar to the Supreme Court as a judge.
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.
Malhotra is not the first woman to make her way up the judicial ladder to the apex court. In 1989, Justice M Fathima Beevi became the first woman to be appointed as a judge of the apex court.
Thereafter, Justice Sujata V Manohar, Justice Ruma Pal, Justice Gyan Sudha Misra and Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai made it to the top court as judges.
Born in 1956 in Bengaluru, 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.
A postgraduate in political science, Indu graduated in law from Delhi University joined the legal profession in 1983 and was enrolled with the Bar Council of Delhi.
In 1988, she qualified as an Advocate-on-Record in the Supreme Court and secured the first position in the examination, for which she was awarded the Mukesh Goswami Memorial Prize on Law Day.
Indu created buzz when in August 2007 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.
She has also served as a member of the Centre-appointed High-Level Committee (HLC) in the Ministry of Law and Justice to review ‘Institutionalization of Arbitration Mechanism in India’.
She has authored the third edition of a commentary ‘The Law and Practice of Arbitration and Conciliation, 2014’ which was recently released in April 2014.
Malhotra is a trustee of the NGO Save Life Foundation which moved the apex court for a law to protect good samaritans who help road accident victims.
Along with Indu, the collegium has also recommended Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice K M Joseph’s name to be elevated as a Supreme Court judge.
Joseph was part of the bench which in 2016 had rejected the imposition of President’s Rule in the state.