Hon’ble Justice Sujata V. Manohar

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A photograph of Justice Sujata Vasant Manohar is present in several scenes of Batti Gul Meter Chalu [2018, dir. Shree Narayan Singh].

Justice Manohar was the First Woman Judge of the Bombay High Court. She went on to become the First Woman Chief Justice of Two High Courts, Bombay and Kerala and eventually ended her career as a Judge in the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. 

Born in 1934 to the Second Chief Justice of the High Court of Gujarat, Justice Manohar completed her graduation from Elphinstone College in Bombay and then went to Oxford to pursue her interests in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. She passed the Bar Exams in London before returning to her native land to practice law in the High Court of Bombay. Despite being born into a house of legal luminaries, Justice Manohar did not have it easy as a woman in the legal profession. She faced considerable difficulties in managing her household, after marriage, and the demanding nature of her work. As fantastic as the woman is, she handled it all with relative ease. 

As a lawyer, Justice Manohar took Commercial Cases along with Family Disputes, as a part of the Legal Aid schemes. She also handed substantial amount of Public Interest Litigation and did a lot of Pro-Bono Work. Remarkably, Justice Manohar worked for around 30 Non-Government Organizations without charging any fee. In 1978, after 20 years of practice, she was appointed as the First Woman Judge of the Bombay High Court.

Towards the end of 1994, Justice Manohar was then called on to become a Judge in the Supreme Court of India. She was on the Bench that made it mandatory for the Government and the Private Sector to take steps to end Sexual Harassment of Working Women. 

In 1999, Justice Manohar retired. Thereafter, she served as a Member of the National Human Rights Commission till 2004. She is an Honorary Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, and an Honorary Bencher of Lincoln’s Inn, London.

In the year 2018, aged 84, she is still going headstrong. Her Interviews and Articles often appear in Tabloids and Newspapers. A role model for the women in the noble profession of law, Justice Manohar is truly, as Mike Ross would put it, a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious woman.

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