Monday, December 12, 2022

First woman Judge in India

 First woman Judge in India


Justice Leila Seth

Leila Seth (1930 – 2017) was an Indian judge who served as the first woman judge on the Delhi High Court and became the first woman to become Chief Justice of a state High Court, Himachal Pradesh High Court, on 5 August 1991. 


She was also the first woman to be designated as a senior counsel by the Supreme Court of India.


Leila Seth was born on 20 October 1930 in Lucknow, the first daughter after two sons in her family. 


Her father, who worked in the Imperial Railway Service and when he died when she was only 11 years old.



Leila's mother managed to educate her in Loreto Convent, Darjeeling. After finishing her schooling, she began to work as a stenographer in Kolkata. 


In Calcutta she was introduced to her husband Prem Seth.


After marriage, she moved to London with her husband who was working at Bata. Her move to London gave her the opportunity to start studying law.


She said that she picked law for the simple reason that it did not require attending classes.


In 1958, Leila Seth wrote the London Bar exam and topped it at the age of 27, becoming the first woman to do so. 


In the same year of 1959 she also cleared the civil services examination as an IAS officer.


Upon topping the Bar in England, Seth was referred to as "Mother-in-Law" by a London newspaper, because the young Leila Seth with her infant son, born only a few months before the exams.


Leila began to practice law in Patna. She worked under a senior lawyer named Sachin Chaudhary.


After practicing at the Patna High Court for 10 years, Leila Seth moved to the Delhi High Court in 1972. In the same year, she launched her Supreme Court practice. On 10 January 1977, she was designated as a senior advocate by the Supreme Court.


First woman Judge & Chief Justice


In 1978, Leila Seth became a Judge of the Delhi High Court, breaking the glass ceiling by becoming the first woman to do so.


In 1991,she became the Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court, again the first woman to be the Chief Justice of a State High Court.


Leila Seth chaired various judicial and humanitarian institutions. 


She was a member of the 15th Law Commission of India from 1997 to 2000, and suggested to give daughters inheritance rights over ancestral property in the Hindu Succession Act (1956).


She also served as the Chair of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) for several years. 


Justice Leila Seth Commission which enquired into the custodial death of businessman Rajan Pillai, or popularly known as "Biscuit Baron".


Justice Seth was a part of the three member Justice Verma Commissioninstituted after the 2012 Delhi gang rape case to look into an overhaul of rape laws in India.


She died on 5 May 2017.






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