- Apprentice Lawyer
On July 16, Delhi High Court’s Acting Chief Justice, Gita Mittal was recommended by the Supreme Court Collegium for appointment as the next Chief Justice of the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) High Court.
The office of Chief Justice for the J&K High Court has been lying vacant since March 15, 2018 after the retirement of Chief Justice BD Ahmed.
Justice Mittal has been functioning as the Acting Chief Justice of Delhi High Court since April 2017.
If the recommendation of Collegium to appoint Mittal J. as Chief Justice of J&K High Court is approved by the Central government, she will become the first ever woman to be a judge in Jammu & Kashmir High Court.
The Jammu & Kashmir High Court which was established in 1928 has not had a single woman judge in its 90 years of existence. The High Court has had 107 judges in those 90 years and all of them have been men.
This does not seem surprising given the conditions prevalent in the State coupled with the fact that women have had to struggle in the male-dominated legal profession.
Meanwhile, Justice Gita Mittal who has been at the helm of the Delhi High Court has ushered in many changes during her tenure.
She had changed the roster and marked cases according to the expertise of the judges. She even sent a letter to all her brother and sister judges indicating the pendency of different categories of cases.
Most importantly, High Court under Mittal J. took a very strict stance on laxity and impropriety in the subordinate judiciary. Additional Sessions Judge Raj Kapoor was retired, as per the decision of the Full Court headed by Mittal J.
Similarly, one Nitesh Gupta – who was set to take charge as Metropolitan Magistrate in Tis Hazari – was made to demit office. Gupta was retired after he failed to provide a satisfactory explanation with respect to interest-free loans taken by him to the tune of Rs. 5.73 crore.
A task force headed by Justice Mittal also conducted surprise visits to various District courts before sending notices to twenty-four District judges calling for an explanation from them as to why they were late to come to court.
If approved by the Central government, Justice Mittal would be the second consecutive Chief Justice Jammu & Kashmir High Court would have from Delhi High Court, the earlier one being Justice BD Ahmed.