Kapila Hingorani Is First Woman Lawyer To Have Portrait In SC Library

Ria Das
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Did you know that there was no portrait of a woman lawyer in the Supreme Court's libraries? Well, that is set to change. For the very first time in the 67-year history of India’s top court, the SC will put up a portrait of a woman lawyer in one of its libraries, Hindustan Times reported.


It is a fitting tribute to barrister Kapila Hingorani, known as the Mother of PILs in legal circles.

Hingorani is the first Indian woman lawyer to have the honour of having her illustrious portrait alongside images of judicial luminaries like MC Setalvad, CK Daphtry and RK Jain in the Supreme Court’s second library

On Tuesday (Nov 28), Chief Justice Dipak Misra unveiled Hingorani's portrait in the library. “This was long overdue,” Misra said. "The honour for Hingorani should have come much earlier as she was a true harbinger of justice for the voiceless," he added.

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Hingorani was the first Indian woman to graduate from Cardiff Law School in Britain. Then she broke another glass-ceiling by becoming the first lawyer to file a public interest litigation (PIL) in the top court in 1979.

Her entire life, Hingorani fought for prisoners awaiting trial for years. She realised that the time they were spending in prison was more than the maximum sentence they were awarded for the crimes they were accused of.

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Following Hingorani's PIL, the Supreme Court formulated extensive guidelines for speedy trials

The landmark case today is known as the Hussainara Khatoon case, named after one of the six women undertrial prisoners who were released following the petition. Eventually, about 40,000 undertrials from across the country were released by the apex court.

The petition earned Hingorani the title of the ‘Mother of Public Interest Litigation’


Hingorani was born in 1927 in Nairobi. Mahatma Gandhi was her idol. During her initial days as a lawyer, the Supreme Court had just three woman lawyers.

The legal luminary died in 2013, at the age of 86.

Supreme Court Bar Association president Rupinder Suri said, “Hingorani was not just a lawyer but a barrister too. She could have lived in the UK, but chose India."

A family of lawyers, Hingorani and her three children, Aman, Priya and Shweta, fought more than 100 cases in the apex court

She has also been honoured with a plaque at her Cardiff alma mater.

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