Justice B V Nagarathna: Indian Judiciary’s Approach to Look Beyond the Glass Ceiling

By | September 3, 2021
Justice B V Nagarthna

This article on ‘Justice B V Nagarathna: Indian Judiciary’s approach to look beyond the glass ceiling.’ is written by Eshanee Bhattacharya and focuses on the life of Justice B V  Nagarathna, in the light of the recent appointments of women judges in the Supreme Court.

I. Introduction

It was a historic moment for the Indian Judiciary on Thursday when three women were appointed to the Supreme Court, with Justice B V Nagarathna set to become India’s first female Chief Justice in 2027. Justices Hima Kohli, B V Nagarathna, and Bela M Trivedi are among the Supreme Court’s nine new appointees. With their appointments, the Supreme Court now has four female judges among its 33 members, the largest number ever to approach towards equal gender representation.

President Ram Nath Kovind approved the appointment of B V Nagarathna and eight others to the Supreme Court, paving the way for her to become the first female president of the Supreme Court of India (CJI) in 2027.

II. Justice B V Nagarathna: life, background and academic career

B V Nagarathna is an Indian Supreme Court Judge who was born on October 30, 1962. From 2008 to 2021, she was a judge on the Karnataka High Court. E.S. Venkataramiah, Justice Nagarathna’s father, was India’s 19th Chief Justice. He was appointed on June 19, 1989, and served until December 17, 1989, when he retired. She became a member of the Karnataka Bar Council in 1987 and practised constitutional and commercial law in Bangalore before being appointed as an extra judge of the Karnataka High Court in 2008. On February 17, 2010, she was appointed as a permanent judge.

On October 28, 1987, Justice Nagarathna became a lawyer. Between 2000 and 2001, she practised before the Supreme Court of India, the Karnataka High Court, the Karnataka Administrative Tribunal and the Central Administrative Tribunal, the Consumer Redressal Commission in Bangalore, and the Bangalore Arbitration and Conciliation Commission.[1]

Justice Nagarathna practised constitutional law, commercial law (including insurance law), administrative and public law, land and rent law, and family law during her 21-year career as a lawyer.

If everything goes as expected, Judge B V Nagarathna will become the second Chief Justice of India in her family. Her father was, from June 1989 to December 1989, Venkataramiah held the coveted position for 6 months. Although this is a rare feat in itself, 2027 may be a year of historic significance for the Indian judiciary, as Judge Nagarathna will become the first Chief Justice in the Supreme Court of India.

III. Notable judgments by Justice B V Nagarathana

Justice Nagarathna issued a decision in 2012 underlining the need for electronic media regulation. “While accurate information distribution is an essential necessity of every broadcasting station, sensationalism in the form of ‘Breaking News,’ ‘Flash News,’ or any other form must be curbed,” she stated in her ruling. She was a member of the high court bench that ordered the government to establish a framework to control broadcast media in 2012.

In an elaborate judgment issued in October 2020, the bench of Justice B V Nagarathna and Justice Ravi V. Hosmani, while hearing the case of Master Balacharan Krishnan v. State of Karnataka and Ors,[2] she held that such reservations had no nexus with Article 14 and that the law school was an autonomous university and an institute of national importance.

Sitting with Justice M.G. Uma withinside the case of Hanumantha Mogaveera v. State of Karnataka,[3] Justice Nagarathna treated the tricky problems in POCSO Act and directed the State to installation considered necessary courts and offer vital infrastructure and manpower. The bench additionally directed the putting in place of gadgets in District Hospitals to take care of toddler sufferers and intellectual fitness professions to be made available.

In June 2021, the Bench of Justices Nagarathna and Hanchate Sanjeevkumar withinside the case of Rizwan Pasha v. Commissioner of Police,[4] directed the launch of a prisoner, holding “Consideration of an illustration made via way of means of a detenu, put up the confirmation of the order of preventive detention is to examine into the standards of herbal justice and additionally Article 21 of the Constitution. Non-attention of this sort of illustration could additionally be arbitrary and oppressive and therefore, an infraction of Articles 14 in addition to 21 of the Constitution.”

IV. Justice Nagarthana’s role in ensuring female welfare

As the chairperson of the Karnataka Judicial Academy, she, for the primary time, added a schooling module for trial judges approximately legal guidelines on gender, children, and environment. As a member of the High Court’s constructing committee, she had ensured the set up of a sanitary pad vending system close to washrooms at the High Court premises to be used by ladies advocates, litigants, and staff.[5]


References

[1] Legal, I. (2021). Justice BV Nagarathna: Inline to be India’s first woman CJI. [online] India Legal, Available Here, Accessed 3 Sep. 2021.

[2] W.P. No.8788 OF 2020.

[3] CRIMINAL PETITION NO.2951/2020.

[4] WRIT PETITION HABEAS CORPUS No.29 OF 2021.

[5] Special Correspondent (2021). Look for opportunities armed with faith in yourself, Justice Nagarathna tells women advocates. [online] The Hindu, Available Here, Accessed 3 Sep. 2021.


  1. Law Library: Notes and Study Material for LLB, LLM, Judiciary and Entrance Exams
  2. Legal Bites Academy – Ultimate Test Prep Destination
Author: Eshanee Bhattacharya

Eshanee is practicing in the areas of Corporate Commercial, Insolvency and Securities Law. She is an alumnus of the National Institute of Securities Markets. (MNLU Mumbai)

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