The Centre’s Narendra Modi government has cleared the appointment of Indu Malhotra as Supreme Court judge. She will now become the first woman lawyer to become a Supreme Court judge. Indu Mlahotra is likely to be sworn in this Friday.
Only six women have been appointed as Supreme Court judge since independence. They were all appointed since 1989, when Justice Fathima Beevi was appointed as the first woman judge in the Supreme Court. The other woman judges to follow in the subsequent years have been Justices Sujatha Manohar, Ruma Pal, Gyan Sudha Misra, Ranjana Desai and R.Banumathi. Justice Banumathi is currently the only woman judge in the top court.
The Supreme Court collegium had recommended the names of Indu Malhotra and Justice KM Jospeh, who’s currently working as the Chief Justice of Uttarakhand High Court, three months ago. The law ministry of the central government sent Malhotra’s file to the Intelligence Branch for clearance earlier this month.
The Centre has, however, reportedly withheld its decision on Justice Joseph for now. This decision, even though his name was recommended by the apex court’s top five judges including Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, will not go down well their Lordships.
Justice KM Jospeh had famously quashed the Modi government’s President Rule order in Uttarakhand in 2016, when the state was being governed by the Congress’ Harish Rawat.
Not so long ago, Justice Kurian Joseph had written to CJI Misra stating that the ‘very life and existence’ of the Supreme Court was under threat and “history will not pardon us,” if the court did not respond to the government’s unprecedented act of sitting on the collegium’s recommendation.
He had said, “it is the first time in the history of this court where nothing is known as to what has happened to a recommendation after three months.”
Justice Joseph’s letter had followed another extraordinary letter written by Justice Chelameswar to CJI Misra last month demanding a full court on the intervention by the central government in the appointment of judges to high courts. The second senior most judge had decided to write to CJI Misra after it emerged that Karnataka High Court Chief Justice Dinesh Maheshwari had initiated a probe against a judge recommended twice by the Supreme Court collegium for elevation to the High Court.