All Women Bench in Supreme Court next week, second time ever

Murali Krishnan August 31 2018

The Supreme Court will be privy to a rare event next week when Justices R Banumathi and Indira Banerjee will adorn the Bench in courtroom 12 on September 5 and September 6.

This will be the second time ever in the history of the Supreme Court when a Bench comprising of woman judges alone will be hearing cases.

The first was in 2013 when Justices Gyan Sudha Misra and Ranjana Prakash Desai sat together temporarily due to the absence of another judge.

Justices Gyan Sudha Misra and Ranjana Prakash Desai

Interestingly, this is also the first time that the Supreme Court has three sitting woman judges.

In the history of the Supreme Court, there have been a mere seven woman judges. Justice Fathima Beevi was the first woman judge who was elevated to the Supreme Court. That was in the year 1989.

Taking Justice Beeviā€™s lead was Justice Sujatha Manohar, followed by Justices Ruma Pal, and more recently Justices Gyan Sudha Misra, Ranjana Prakash Desai, R Banumathi and Indu Malhotra.

Among these judges, Justices Beevi, Manohar and Pal spent their time in Supreme Court as sole woman judge throughout their tenures.

Justice Beevi retired in 1992 and Sujata Manohar was elevated to Supreme Court only in 1994. Justice Sujata Manohar retired in 1999 and Justice Ruma Pal came, but only in 2000. Justice Pal retired in 2006 and Supreme Court had no woman judge for a long time till Justice Gyan Sudha Misra was made Supreme court judge in 2010.

This trend of one sitting woman judge was broken only in 2011 when Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai was elevated to the Bench. She became the second sitting woman judge along with Justice Gyan Sudha Misra. It was the first time the Supreme Court had more than one woman sitting judge. It was also when these two woman judge sat together thus becoming the first all-women Bench.

Justice Gyan Sudha Misra retired in April 2014 and Justice Desai continued as the sole woman sitting judge for sometime till Justice Banumathi was made Supreme Court judge in August 2014.

Subsequently, Justice Ranjana Desai and Justice Banumathi were sitting judges for a short period before Justice Desai retired.

Justice Banumathi then continued as the sole woman judge on the Bench till Justice Indu Malhotra was elevated to the Bench in April this year.