Justice R Banumathi, the 5th senior-most judge of the apex court had her last day on 17th July 2020 and she has officially retired. She practised for seven years in Tamil Nadu’s district and mofussil court before joining the judicial services in 1988 as a District judge . in 1995, she headed the one-person commission on indiscriminate behaviour by the special task force towards Coimbatore’s villagers.
In 2003, she was elevated as a judge of the Madras High Court. She also presided over the Tamil Nadu State Judicial Academy’s Board in 2011, she served as the chairman of Madras H.C legal services Committee. In 2013, she served as the Executive Chairman of the Tamil Nadu state legal services. She authored the handbook of civil and criminal courts management and use of computers. For nearly 42 months starting oct,2014 justice R.Banumathi remained a lone woman judge in the SC.
CIC v/s High Court of Gujarat &anr.2020
In a significant ruling on the applicability of the Right to Information act,2005 to the courts, justice Banumathi held that the act cannot override the Gujarat H.C rules, in so far as requesting pleading is concerned. In effect, third parties seeking pleading will not be able to file right to information (RTI) requests to obtain pleading in the Gujarat HC.
Pleading are written documents, which contain the key claims and arguments of litigation. Justice Banumathi reasoned that as the current HC ruled already have a system for obtaining pleadings, citizens cannot rely on the RTI act to request them.
She dismissed the appellant’s argument that the HC rules place a higher burden on information application, than the RTI schemes do. The judgment is likely to set the precedent for all other HC and the SC itself.
Bir Singh v/s Delhi Jal Board (2018)
This case revolved around migration and Scheduled caste reservations. The appellant was a migrant who had moved to the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi from his home- state and was seeking a reserved seat in the Delhi Jal Board. While his caste was recognized Scheduled Caste in his home state, it was not in the NCT. She observed that for posts where the recruitment was done by a UT( NCT) only SC/ST specified the Presidential orders for that territory may apply.
Mukesh & Anr.v/s State of Delhi, 2017
In the Nirbhaya Judgement, justice Banumathi authored a separate concurring opinion which prescribed the death penalty for the accused. She stated that the accused’s action dell within the rarest of rare category.
Justice R. Banumathi has officially retired on 19th July, 2020. justice Banumathi was elevated to the S.C in the year of 2014 and was a part of several landmark judgment. she was the 5th senior-most judge of the apex court.
Justice Banumathi got entry to the S.C collegium in Nov 2019 almost more than a decade later than the first woman to make the collegium i.e justice Ruma Pal.
Justice Banumathi in her farewell speech revealed that she and her family were the victims of judicial delay and that’s when her mother ensured that the three sisters were educated and that she joined the judicial services.
This post is my tribute to justice R Banumathi.