As Ranjan Gogoi retired as the Chief Justice of India after serving for over 13 months in the post on Sunday, Justice R Banumathi is set to become part of the Supreme Court Collegium -- the first woman to enter it in 13 years. Justice Banumathi will enter the Collegium by virtue of being the fifth seniormost judge in the apex court.
The new Collegium will now comprise of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, NV Ramana, Arun Mishra, Rohinton Nariman and R Banumathi. The last and only woman judge in the Collegium was Justice Ruma Pal, who retired in 2006.
Justice Banumathi, one of the few judges from the subordinate judiciary to have made it to the Supreme Court, began her career as a lawyer in 1981.
She entered the Tamil Nadu Higher Judicial Service as a direct recruit District Judge in 1988 and worked as District and Sessions Judge in various districts of the state, according to Bar and Bench.
Her big break came in 2003, when she was appointed a judge of the Madras High Court. In 2013, she was elevated as Chief Justice of Jharkhand High Court. Banumathi was appointed Supreme Court judge on August 13, 2014. She will continue to be part of the Collegium till her retirement on July 19, 2020.
Beside Justice Banumathi, Justices Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee are the other two women judges in the apex court.
Justice R Banumathi has been part of some important benches. She was part of the bench that confirmed the death sentence of the convicts in the December 16 Delhi gang rape-cum-murder case. More recently, Justice R Banumathi upheld the Delhi High Court’s order refusing anticipatory bail to former finance minister P Chidambaram in the INX Media case lodged by the Enforcement Directorate.