By LE Desk
New Delhi, March 12: “Don’t know any finer judge than Justice Indu Malhotra”, Chief Justice SA Bobde said on Friday as the first woman lawyer to be appointed directly as a judge of the Supreme Court sat on the bench along with him for the last time before her retirement.
Showering all praises on Justice Malhotra, the CJI said that he does not wish to say anything about her judicial acumen as her judgments are filled with knowledge, news agency PTI reported.
Justice Malhotra, who is set to retire from judgeship on Saturday, was choked with emotion. She said though she had the tenure of an apex court judge for less than three years, she is leaving with a great sense of satisfaction.
Justice Malhotra thanked the CJI and the members of the bar and said “I am very blessed to be a part of the institution”.
“I can understand the feeling which one goes through on the last day. We will hear her speech on some other day,” said the CJI, who headed the bench comprising Justice Malhotra and Justice AS Bopanna.
Attorney General K K Venugopal said that it is very unfortunate that judges of the Supreme Court have to retire at the age of 65.
“We all will miss a great judge”, Venugopal said while praising Justice Malhotra.
Senior advocate Vikas Singh, who is also the president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, agreed with Venugopal’s view and said judges of the apex court should not retire at the age of 65.
“65 year is the age when you are at the peak. There is no reason why judges (of the apex court) should retire at 65 years,” Singh said.
He said, “demand of the bar is that there should be an immediate replacement at the bench by a lady member”.
“She (Justice Malhotra) is an icon and she is a motivation for young as well as lady members of the bar,” Singh said.
Senior advocates Mukul Rohatgi, P S Narasimha, V Mohana and other lawyers also praised Justice Malhotra for the grace, dignity and patience with which she did her work as a judge of the apex court and also as a member of the bar before being elevated to the bench.
Malhotra, who was designated as a senior advocate in 2007, became the first woman lawyer to directly enter the top judiciary as a judge on April 26, 2018. With her retirement, Justice Indira Banerjee remains the only woman judge in the top court.
The first woman to be appointed as a judge of the apex court was Justice M Fathima Beevi in 1989, 39 years after the Supreme Court was set up in 1950.