Biography of Justice BV Nagarathna

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    The Central Government clears all the 9 recommendations of the Supreme Court Collegium. With this, the Supreme Court of India is set to get the first Woman Chief Justice of India. Justice BV Nagarathna, currently Judge of the Karnataka High Court is expected to become the Chief Justice of India in 2027. The names of the 9 Judges was approved by the five-member collegium which comprised of Justice UU Lalit, Justice  AM Khanwilkar, Justice DY Chandrachud, and Justice L Nageswara Rao

    Here are the names of the 9 Judges:

    1. Justice Hima Kohli: Chief Justice of Telangana
    2. Justice BV Nagarathna: Judge of Karnataka High Court
    3. Justice Bela Trivedi: Judge of Gujarat High Court
    4. Senior Advocate PS Narasimha: Direct elevation from the Bar – 9th such elevation directly from the Bar
    5. Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka: Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court
    6. Justice Vikram Nath: Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court
    7. Justice Jitendra Kumar Maheshwari: Chief Justice of Sikkim High Court
    8. Justice CT Ravikumar: Judge of Kerala High Court
    9. Justice MM Sundresh: Judge of Madaras High Court

    All the newly appointed Judges of the Supreme Court will take oath on 31st August 2021. With this, the strength of the Supreme Court will increase from 24 to 33. 

    Early Life

    Justice B.V. Nagarathna is currently the judge of Karnataka High Court and is likely to be elevated to the Supreme court of India as her name figures on the list of nine judges recommended by the Collegium and cleared by the Central Government. This would mean that she would become the first woman Chief Justice of India when assuming office in 2027. Interestingly, she would be the second Chief Justice of India in her family after her father, Justice E.S. Venkataramiah, who was the 19th Chief Justice of India, held the post for almost 6 months.

    About the Legal Career

    • 1987:

    Justice B.V. Nagarathna started her career in the legal industry as an advocate. She got herself enrolled in 1987 in Banglore. She is not a first-generation lawyer as her father Justice ES Venkataramia has served as the Cheif Justice of India in 1989 for about 6 months. When she was an advocate she dealt in constitutional law, commercial law, including insurance law, service law, administrative and public law, the laws pertaining to land and rent laws, family law, conveyancing & drafting of contracts and agreements, arbitration, and conciliation. 

    • 2008: 

    Justice B.V. Nagarathna was appointed as an Additional Judge of the High Court of Karnataka in 18-2-2008. 

    • 2010: 

    Justice Nagarathna was subsequently elevated as Permanent Judge on 17-02-2010.

    • 2020:

    In May 2020, Justice Nagarathna was considered for the appointment to the Supreme Court of India. After this, a lot of commentators have expected Justice Nagarathna to become the first Chief Justice of India in 2027. 

    Famous Incidents

    • In a notable incident on November 09, 2009, the agitating advocates of Karnataka High Court disrupted proceedings in the court and around 200 advocates demonstrated against Justices V. Gopala Gowda and Justice B.V. Nagaratna when the latter did not give heed to their demand of not conducting proceedings. The agitators locked the doors of the court hall where the judges were sitting and even cut off the power supply. They were later released by the protesting lawyers. Following the incident, Nagarathna made a public statement, saying “We are not angry, but we are sad that the Bar has done this to us. We have to hang our heads in shame.” She questioned, “Are we to rise at the behest of the Bar and is the Bar dictating the terms? 
    • Further recently while hearing the petition in response to a plea filed by Radha M seeking directions to the state government to provide mid-day meals to students from classes 6 to 8 after regular schools had reopened in the state.  The mid-day meal scheme was not resumed in certain schools near the Kerala-Karnataka border owing to a rise in coronavirus cases. The divisional bench comprising Justices B.V. Nagarathna responded that- “For one year you were aware of this consequence, still there is no plan in place. If you allow opening schools, it allows congregation. If you can permit that, then why can’t you start mid-day meals,” Justice Nagarathna said. Earlier she also stated that “Nobody can study on a hungry stomach.”
    • In the recent court hearing, she noted, “In a patriarchal society like ours, people always look down upon the woman. They always talk about women’s empowerment, but society does not know how to treat an empowered woman. Parents don’t teach their sons how to treat an empowered woman… That is a problem with men, I will say that”. Further it was observed that marriage is all about adjustment. “It is ultimately only between two people,” the bench said while adding that the mother-in-law should not “interfere unnecessarily” once the wife comes into the picture.

    Important Judgments

    1. In 2012, along with another judge, she ordered the federal government to examine the possibility of regulating broadcast media in India, noting the rise of fake news. In a concurring opinion, she also warned against the risks of allowing government control over broadcast media, calling for a statutory framework that would allow self-regulation by the broadcast industry.

    2. In 2016, she ruled along with another judge that the Karnataka government could not require owners of vehicles bought outside the state to pay a “lifetime tax” in order to use their vehicles in Karnataka, holding the policy to be unconstitutional.

    3. In 2019, along with two other judges, she ruled that temples were not commercial institutions and accordingly, that provisions of labor laws relating to the payment of gratuities did not apply to temple employees.

    4. On 15 September 2020, she and another judge upheld a contested government policy to ensure the standardization of admissions into both, public and private colleges in Karnataka, citing the COVID-19 pandemic in India as a reason to limit the autonomy of private institutions.

    5. She was part of the bench that rejected the Karnataka government’s proposal to halt mid-day meals in COVID-affected areas. The bench also coaxed the government to bridge the digital divide and ensure children have access to online classes. Further the bench directed teachers and non-teaching staff to be treated as frontline workers.

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