As the Parliamentary Hearing Special Committee endorses all the 11 candidates recommended for Supreme Court justice positions, there will be three women in the apex court for the first time in the country’s judicial history.
A meeting of the committee on Sunday endorsed seven chief judges of appellate courts and four senior advocates for appointment to the apex court.
The seven justices—Deep Kumar Karki, Kedar Prasad Chalise, Sharada Prasad Ghimire, Mira Khadka, Bishwambar Prasad Shrestha, Ishwar Prasad Khatiwada and Ananda Prasad Bhattarai—and four senior advocates—Hari Krishna Karki, Anil Kumar Sinha, Prakash Man Singh Raut and Sapana Pradhan Malla—were recommended by the Judicial Council in March.
This representation of Khadka and Malla comes on top of three women heading three state bodies—Bidhya Devi Bhandari as the President and Onsari Gharti as the Speaker of Parliament and Sushila Karki as the chief justice.
Quite a few people expressed their joy at having three women at the apex court for the first time. Ila Sharma, an election commissioner, wrote on social media: “Sapana as an SC Justice and future CJ—we rejoice today as we enter a new era of women’s leadership! After the President, the CJ and the Speaker, we have another occasion to celebrate womanhood and competence! We celebrate the human (read feminine!) side of power: compassion, commitment, passion as well as command of issues!”
Bhairav Lamsal, former acting CJ, termed the development as a positive reflection of women empowerment in the country. “Since all of them are very qualified for the role and that our constitution also envisages a progressive society in terms of exclusivity, we are hopeful that they will uplift justice delivery mechanism in all sectors,” he said.
Malla is on course to become the second female chief justice, leading the apex court for around three years starting from 2025.
“Although I spent much of my career advocating women’s social justice and equality, I will regardless raise my voice against any form of discrimination against any person, including men,” Malla told the Post.
During the parliamentary hearing on Thursday, Malla emphasised the need for a vision to make justice accessible for and affordable to all. Malla, who describes herself as a “cause lawyer” for her dedication towards advocacy of social justice, has spent three decades fighting cases against discriminatory laws against women. A majority of the committee members had admired her accomplishments.
Born in Nawalparasi district, Pradhan has a Master’s degree in Comparative Law from the University of Delhi and a Mid-Career Master’s from Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Former president of the Forum for Women, Law and Development, Malla was the joint winner of the Gruber Prize for Women’s Rights in 2008. She is currently an elected member of the Convention Against Torture.