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Women In Indian Judiciary

Updated: Mar 3

In India, until 1924, women faced formidable barriers to entry into the legal profession, as the Legal Practitioners Act of 1879 barred them from enrolling as advocates. Despite these obstacles, women have made significant strides in the judiciary over the years. Breaking through societal norms, pioneers like Cornelia Sorabji, who became India's first female practitioner in 1892 after studying at Oxford University, laid the foundation for future generations. The journey continued with Anna Chandy's historic appointment as India's first female judge in 1959, marking a pivotal moment in the advancement of women in the judiciary.

Since then, women have risen to prominence across all levels of the legal system, serving as judges, advocates, scholars, and policymakers. Their remarkable contributions not only enrich the legal profession but also play a vital role in advancing gender equality and justice in society. As we celebrate their achievements, it is imperative to foster an inclusive environment that empowers women to excel and continue shaping India's legal landscape for the better.

  • Regina Guha is notable for fighting over the case regarding the interpretation of the legal provisions in Legal Practitioners Act 1879, which barred women from practicing as an advocate. A bench of 5 male judges of the Calcutta High Court ruled, in the case of In Re Regina Guha, that although the governing law, the Legal Practitioners Act 1879, used the term 'person' regarding enrolment, this term did not include women. They accordingly denied her the right to enroll as a lawyer under the clause as a person.

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  • Cornelia Sorabji was the first female advocate in India, apart from it she was also the first female graduate from Bombay University and the first woman to study law at Oxford University.

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  • Anna Chandy was the first women judge of the High Court in India. Apart from it, she was also one of the first female judges in the British Empire.

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  • Fathima Beevi was the first women Supreme court judge of India. She had also topped the Bar Council of India's exam in 1950.

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  • Leila Seth served as the first woman judge on the Delhi High Court and became the first woman Chief Justice of a State High Court for Himachal Pradesh High Court. She was also part of the three-member bench of the Justice Verma Committee that was established to overhaul India's rape laws in the aftermath of the infamous 2012 Delhi gang-rape case.

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