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The Lady Sings Strength

Women, the underprivileged, the weak—they have always found a voice in Indira Jaising

The Lady Sings Strength
Jitender Gupta
The Lady Sings Strength
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Sterling Record

  • Born in Mumbai to Sindhi parents who migrated from Pakistan and educated in Bangalore, Indira Jaising got her law degree in 1962. She was the first woman to become a senior advocate at Bombay High Court.
  • Among the cases she has fought are the one that won Syrian Christian women inheritance rights
  • She has fought the case of IAS officer Rupan Deol Bajaj who charged IPS officer K.P.S. Gill with sexual harassment, represented victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy, fought for the rights of pavement dwellers facing eviction in Mumbai, and represented Gita Hariharan in a landmark case of a woman’s right to her child.
  • During Emergency, she provided free legal aid to striking railway workers, resulting in her office being put under surveillance
  • She later founded Lawyers’ Collective, which funds and advises the poor who are facing legal action
  • She is co-authoring a book (under the aegis of Lawyers Collective) that is meant as a legal primer on sexual harassment at the workplace
  • She was appointed additional solicitor general in 2009

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An old Remington typewriter, a poster of Bollywood film Indira, starring Hema Malini as a legal crusader, posters on violence against women that say ‘Use the Law to Resist It’, shelves lined with law books—the stage props that make up Indira Jaising’s office space only partly depart from the norm, and she’s quick to make light of the film poster. The additional solicitor general has two firsts connected to her name—she’s the first woman to occupy that post; she was at the forefront of the campaign against Justice Ramaswami, leading to the first impea­chment proceedings against a Supreme Court judge. These days, however, she’s in the news as the person who shattered the omerta around sexual harassment by senior judges—which many describe as the judiciary’s worst kept secret. “I’d rather be remembered as a woman who raised the issue of integrity in the highest court of the land,” she says, “though, yes, I did lend my voice to the interns who spoke up against sexual harassment by senior judges of the court.”

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