Like most other professional courses in the country, studying law had for the longest time been the forte of the male population. Most of the advocates, senior advocates and judges in courts across the country have been men, and that still remains the case in this day and age.
However, with the passage of time, women have been breaking the norms and have made their presence felt in this male dominated sphere. These fiesty women have beat the odds to come out as some of the most successful, hard working professionals and have contributed significantly to the judicial system of our country.
1. Menaka Guruswamy
Menaka Guruswamy is an advocate at the Supreme Court of India. She has dedicated her life to the cause of upholding justice as she summarizes in this quote, “to advocate, for those who cannot tell their own stories, to defend those whose freedom is in peril, to prod a nation to ask of itself: for whom am I, and for what was I created?”
Working mostly in constitutional law, Menaka Guruswamy has been instrumental in defending a provision in the Right to Education Act mandating that all private schools admit disadvantaged children, and was among the lawyers arguing for the Naz foundation while challenging Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.
2. Vrinda Grover
Identified by TIME magazine as one of the 100 most influential women in 2013, Vrinda Grover is a lawyer and human rights activist and has made significant contributions to the women’s rights movement in India.
She has actively dealt with domestic violence cases and cases involving sexual minorities. Grover has also represented victims in the Soni Sori rape case, and has been influential in the drafting of the Criminal Law Amendment of 2013, the POCSO Act 2012 and the Prevention of Torture Bill, 2010.
3. Meenakshi Arora
A practicing senior counsel at the Supreme Court of India, Meenakshi has her fair share of contribution in ensuring that the rights of women in India are upheld.A member of the Gender Sensitization and Internal Complaints Committee of the Supreme Court, Arora was one of the advocates whose persistent efforts led to the framing of the Vishakha Guidelines, which later culminated into the legislation of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act (2013).
4. Indira Jaising
With her gift of the gab and an unbelievably thorough grasp over the law, she can take down just about anyone who might pose a threat to the rights enjoyed by women in India. Ms Jaising dedicated her life to fighting for the cause of human rights and founded Lawyers Collective, a human rights organisation, along with her husband Anand Grover in 1981.
Her tireless work has been instrumental in the framing of the Domestic Violence Act (2005) and her most recent accolades include a major victory in Priya Pillai’s case where the High Court ruled that the state cannot muzzle dissent. Jaising was also the first woman to be appointed as an Additional Solicitor General of India in 2009.
5. Pinky Anand
Pinky Anand is a Senior Advocate at the Supreme Court of India and is deemed to be an expert in the fields of Constitutional Law, Family Law, Environmental law, amongst others. She was appointed to be an Additional Solicitor General of India and was the second woman to have been appointed to this post.
6. Karuna Nundy
An advocate in the Supreme Court of India, Karuna Nundy works in human rights litigation and has contributed significantly to the gender justice movement in India. She was instrumental in seeking justice for the victims of the 1984 Bhopal Gas Tragedy, and was also involved in the drafting of the Criminal Law Amendment Bill 2013.
Karuna Nundy was also instrumental in the Supreme Court judgement scrapping Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, which posed as a restriction on freedom of speech. Personally invested in the cause of upholding justice, she has also participated in a Reddit AMA to engage the common masses with discussions about the Indian legal system.
7. Flavia Agnes
Co-Founder of ‘Majlis’, an organization that provides legal representation for women, Flavia is an Indian author, legal scholar, women’s rights activist and lawyer.Her works on feminist jurisprudence are of utmost importance and she is renowned for her services to destitute women on legal matters. She was also instrumental in the formation of the Forum Against Oppression of Women (FAOW), a campaign group that dealt with issues involving wife beating, dowry and sexual harassment in 1979.
8. Meenakshi Lekhi
Meenakshi Lekhi, an Indian Member of Parliament in the Lok Sabha, is also a lawyer at the Supreme Court of India. She has been a part of the Drafting Committees for Bills like ‘Women’s Reservation Bill’ and ‘Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill’, and has worked on domestic violence and family law disputes.She was the representative for the victim in the Shanti Mukund Hospital rape case, and also took up the case for the permanent commissioning of women in the Indian Armed Forces at the Supreme Court.
9. Sudha Bharadwaj
Sudha Bharadwaj is a trade unionist, a civil rights activist and a lawyer based in Chhattisgarh. She has decided her life to fighting for labour rights and is actively involved in the movement against land acquisition.
She is the general secretary of the Chhattisgarh People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), part of the national organization, and works for the cause of the labour classes in her state.