Updated: March 26, 2010 04:11 IST

Supreme Court to have woman judge

J. Venkatesan
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Gyan Sudha Mishra
Gyan Sudha Mishra

The Supreme Court will very soon have a woman judge, after more than three years.

The Supreme Court collegium, headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, has recommended the elevation of Chief Justice of the Jharkhand High Court Gyan Sudha Misra as a Supreme Court judge.

Justice Misra will be the fourth woman judge of the Supreme Court, after Fatima Beevi, Sujata Manohar, and Ruma Paul, who retired in June 2006.

The collegium has also recommended the elevation of Madras High Court Chief Justice H.L. Gokhale as a Supreme Court judge.

The collegium took these decisions at a meeting on Tuesday.

With these elevations, the strength of judges will go up to 29, as against the sanctioned strength of 31.

President Pratibha Patil had raised questions whether seniority was being overlooked in the appointment of some judges, when Justice C.K. Prasad was elevated to the Supreme Court. She had also suggested the appointment of a woman judge.

Highly placed sources said the collegium had considered the President's suggestions and decided to adhere to seniority in appointment.

While Justice Misra, who hails from Bihar, is the senior-most among women judges, Justice Gokhale, who hails from Maharashtra, is the senior-most among male judges.

The recommendations will now be processed by the Union Law Ministry before they are referred to the Prime Minister's Office. The file will then be sent to the President.

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In a country seeking reservation of 1/3 of Parliamentary seats for women it is ironic that only one woman Judge was deemed suitable by the Collegium for elevation to the Supreme Court with a sanctioned strength of 31 Judges. In a supposedly progressive country such as India there is clearly a dire need for reform in the manner of selection of Judges. Perhaps in the future, a new Parliament consisting of 1/3 represented by women, can nominate candidates from an eligible pool. Those nominated can then appear and make their case publicly before a Parliamentary Judiciary Committee following a public appearance before a National Bar Committee, including responsible and well-qualified members of the general public. Such a model has worked remarkably well in America and there is no reason as to why it would not work in an increasingly alert and rights-conscious India.

Muthian Gunasekaran
Los Angeles, California

from:  Muthian Gunasekaran
Posted on: Mar 26, 2010 at 09:37 IST
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