Senior lawyer Indu Malhotra’s elevation to a Supreme Court judge has been cleared by the President. She will be sworn-in on Friday, making her the first woman to be elevated to the rank of a judge in the apex court directly from the Bar. Her name was unanimously recommended by the powerful Collegium headed by CJI Dipak Misra along with the Chief Justice of Uttarakhand KM Joseph on January 10 earlier this year. While Indu Malhotra’s name was cleared by the government, it kept Justice Joseph’s file on hold. Justice Joseph had struck down the Centre’s decision to impose Presidential rule in Uttarakhand in 2016.
Indu Malhotra was born on March 14, 1956. Indu Malhotra is the daughter of well-known advocate late Om Prakash Malhotra. She enrolled herself as a lawyer in 1983 in the Bar Council of Delhi. In 1988, she qualified as an Advocate-on-Record (AoR) in the Supreme Court.
In last 35 years, she has been a consistent performer in the Delhi High Court, Supreme Court as well as at various tribunals. According a report in The Indian Express, Malhotra had played a key role in drafting the guidelines for the Good Samaritan law to provide protection to someone who helps victims of road accident. Besides, she was also a member of the Vishaka Committee on sexual harassment at workplace. She was also a part of a committee by the Supreme Court to deal with complaints of sexual harassment within the court.
She was designated as a senior lawyer in 2007. She is the second woman in the top court’s history to be designated with the tag. Once sworn-in on Friday, she will join the elite group of six women to be appointed as a judge in the top court since independence. At present, Justice R Banumathi is the only woman judge in the Supreme Court.
An expert in arbitration, Indu Malhotra had served as Standing Counsel for Haryana. She had also appeared for statutory bodies like SEBI, DDA, CSIR, ICAR before the Supreme Court. Besides, she was also a part of the Law and Justice Ministry’s High-Level Committee (HCL) to review ‘Institutionalisation of Arbitration Mechanism in India’.
Indu Malhotra has also appeared in many domestic and international arbitrations. She is also the author of the third edition of The Law and Practice Arbitration and Conciliation, 2014.
The Supreme Court of India was established on January 26, 1950. But in the first 39 years of its existence, the top court of the land had no woman representative. Justice Fathima Beevi became the first woman to be appointed as a judge in 1989.
She also became the first Muslim woman to make it to the higher judiciary. Since then, seven women including Indu Malhotra have been elevated to the rank of judge. The other four women judges who made it to the highest judicial forum of the country are Justice Sujatha Manohar, Justice Ruma Pal, Justice Gyan Sudha Misra and Justice Ranjana Desai.