Justice R Banumathi retires on July 19 as a judge at the Supreme Court. On Friday, a webinar was organised to honour her for the three-decade-long service. At this webinar, Justice Bhanumathi spoke about her journey as a woman judge in a male-dominated field (there were only three sitting female judges out of the total 34 at the SC) and revealed that in her early life was marred by many complex legal issues.

Talking about her father’s death, who died in a bus accident when she was only two years old, she explained how she was a victim of delay related to the compensation and complicated legal procedures that took years to resolve. She said that her mother and two sisters were unable to procure compensation for the accident on account of long and complicated court processes and the absence of adequate assistance made it worse for the family which had just lost a guardian.

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“I lost my father in a bus accident when I was of two-year age. In those days, we had to file a suit for compensation. My mother filed the claim and the court passed a decree. But, we couldn’t get the amount due to complicated procedures and lack of assistance,” said the Bhanumathi, who conducted her last court proceedings on Friday. “Myself, my widowed mother and my two sisters, we are victims of court delay and its procedural lags. We did not get the compensation till the last day,” she further added in a statement, Indian Express reported.

She bid farewell to her fellow colleagues and recounted in her final address that there were “mountains of obstacles for no reason” in her three-decade career as a judge of the subordinate court to the apex court. She also mentioned that it was her mother who fought restlessly to ensure that the three sisters were educated, that it was her dedication that led her to join the judicial services. She enrolled with the bar in 1981. Before her retirement, she was the only sitting Supreme Court judge to be elevated from the subordinate judiciary.

What You Should Know

  • Justice R Banumathi, one of the three women Supreme Court judges, has retired.
  • Supreme Court now only has two sitting female judges left out of the total 34.
  • She will officially retire on July 19 but her last working day was on Friday.
  • She is known for declaring maximum judgments during her stint of six years at the top court.

Justice Banumathi will forever be remembered for the landmark judgement in the Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case of December 16, 2012.  She headed the bench that announced death penalty to the four convicts who were hanged to death on March 20 morning.

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R Banumathi is the member of the five-judge collegium and only the second lady judge to achieve the feat. Justice Ruma Pal was the First Lady judge member of the five-judge collegium, she left the office in 2006. Prior to becoming the sitting woman judge, who was appointed in August 2014, Banumathi served as District Judge at various places in Tamil Nadu (in 1988) before being elevated to the Madras High Court in 2003. She served as Chief Justice of the Jharkhand High Court in 2013 before becoming a Supreme Court Judge.

After Justice Banumathi’s retirement, the Supreme Court now has only two woman judges —  Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee.

Feature Image Credit: The Asian Age

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