First woman lawyer appointed directly as Supreme Court judge

Was second woman lawyer to be appointed senior advocate by Supreme Court

Was second woman lawyer to be appointed senior advocate by Supreme Court


New Delhi: Senior lawyer Indu Malhotra will be the first woman lawyer to be directly appointed as a Supreme Court judge.

The law ministry has approved the recommendation of the Supreme Court’s collegium to appoint the senior lawyer to the bench but has decided to hold back its approval to the elevation of the Uttarakhand Chief Justice KM Joseph for now.

Indu Malhotra, who specializes in arbitration, is expected to take oath as a Supreme Court judge later this week. A decade earlier, Mahotra was the second woman lawyer to be appointed as senior advocate by the Supreme Court, three decades after the designation of Justice Leila Seth.

Of the top court’s 24 judges, only one is a woman, Justice R Banumathi. She was elevated to the top court in August 2014. Justice Banumathi was the sixth woman to become a Supreme Court judge. Justice Fathima Beevi was the first in 1989.

The law ministry’s approval to Malhotra’s name comes 14 weeks after a committee of the five senior-most judges headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra recommended Justice Joseph and Malhotra’s name for the top court.

Malhotra has practiced as a senior counsel in the apex court for the past 30 years. She was the second woman to be designated Senior Advocate by the Supreme Court in 2007.

She has authored the third edition of a commentary The Law and Practice of Arbitration and Conciliation, 2014, which was released in April 2014. She has appeared in various domestic and international commercial arbitrations

In December 2016 she has been made member of the High Level Committee in the Ministry of Law and Justice by the Government of India to review Institutionalization of Arbitration Mechanism in India.

She was born in 1956 in Bangalore as the youngest child of late Om Prakash Malhotra and late Satya Malhotra. Her father was a senior advocate in the Supreme Court, a distinguished author who brought out the treatise on the Law of Industrial Disputes. During his later years, he authored a commentary on the Law and Practice of Arbitration and Conciliation, and took out two editions of this book.

Malhotra did her schooling from Carmel Convent School, New Delhi. After schooling, she did her B.A. (Hons.) Political Science from Lady Shri Ram College, University of Delhi, and later did her Masters in Political Science from the same college.

She then worked briefly as a lecturer in Political Science in Miranda House College and Vivekanand College, Delhi University. She did her Bachelor of Laws from the Faculty of Law, Delhi University during 1979-1982.

Malhotra 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 1st position in the examination, for which she was awarded the Mukesh Goswami Memorial Prize on Law Day.

She was appointed as the Standing Counsel for the State of Haryana in the Supreme Court from 1991 to 1996. She represented various statutory corporations like Securities Exchange Board of India, Delhi Development Authority, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Indian Council for Agricultural Research before the Supreme Court.

In 2007, she was designated as a Senior Advocate by the Supreme Court of India.

She has been appointed Amicus Curiae by different benches of the Supreme Court in some matters. Recently, she was appointed as an amicus for restoration of Jaipur as a heritage city.

She is engaged in social and charitable work, and is a trustee of Save Life Foundation, which is a non-profit, non-Governmental Organisation. Save Life has been formed with the objective of prevention of road accidents, and formulating a system for providing immediate post-accident response to save the life of the victims.

Save Life has filed two PILs in the Supreme Court, one for framing guidelines for protection of Good Samaritans who render timely assistance to victims of road accidents; and the second one for striking out certain provisions in the Motor Vehicles Act which permit carriers to transport iron rods protruding from the carriers which have caused a large number of deaths.

She has been nominated by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs to the Central Council and Disciplinary Committee of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, a statutory body established under the Chartered Accountants Act, 1949.

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