One must pray gratitude to this lady, who opened the doors for women to study law. She was the first female graduate from Bombay University, and in 1889 became the first woman to read law at Oxford University, and also the first Indian national to study at any British university. When Cornelia Sorabji managed to accomplish this feat, she found male students slamming the lecture doors on her face because they did not want to give up their domain. In England, she was refused a scholarship simply because she was a woman, was not allowed to read in the Lincoln Library and had the hardest time sitting for the barrister’s examination. Yet her sheer determination and spunk saw her through and she went on to become the first female lawyer not only in India but also in England.
Anna Chandy, was the first female judge in India and also the first woman in India to become a high court judge. She did her post-graduate degree in 1926. While practicing as a lawyer from 1929, she was actively involved in promoting the cause of women’s rights and their legitimate role in the society. She is often described as a “first generation feminist”.
M. Fathima Beevi
Justice M. Fathima Beevi was the first woman judge to be appointed to the Supreme Court of India and the first Muslim woman to be appointed to any higher judiciary. She is the first woman judge of a Supreme Court of a nation in India and Asia. On her retirement from the court she served as a member of the National Human Rights Commission and as Governor in Tamil Nadu (1997–2001). While serving the post she rejected the mercy petitions of the four condemned prisoners associated with the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. The mercy petitions were sent to the Governor by the prisoners for pleading her for exercising her power under Article 161 of the Constitution which is the power of the Governor to grant pardon.
Justice Leila Seth was the first woman judge on the Delhi High Court and the first woman to become Chief Justice of a state High Court of Himachal Pradesh. She was the first woman to top the London Bar exams in 1958. Her excellence was in Tax matters (Income Tax, Sales Tax, Excise and Customs), Civil, Company and Criminal cases as also Matrimonial suits and writ petitions.
A lady from Vishakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, who practised on issues related to protection of the girl child and working women, was appointed as a Judge of Andhra Pradesh High Court in 2001. Presently, she is the first female to be appointed as the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court on 21st April 2014. She was also involved in legal journalism, as a reporter and executive editor of Andhra Pradesh Law Journals.
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