Justice Leila Seth, the first woman judge of Delhi High Court, died on Saturday, reported PTI. Seth, mother of author Vikram Seth, died in her home in Noida, reports said.
Seth became the first woman to top the London bar exam in 1958. She practised law in Patna High Court for about ten years and handled a number of tax matters, civil and criminal cases, matrimonial suits and writ petitions.
In 1978, she became the first woman judge of the Delhi High Court and in 1991, she was appointed the chief justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court – becoming the first woman to ever hold the position of chief justice of a state high court. Seth, who was appointed on Law Commission of India in 2000, was also responsible for the amendments to the Hindu Succession Act which gave equal rights to daughters in joint family property.
In 2003, Seth wrote an autobiography, On Balance, in which she talks about her early years, taking up law, and her family life among other things. In 2010, she wrote We, The Children of India for young readers.
Writer and historian Ramachandra Guha tweeted his condolences and said, “Justice Leila Seth was a remarkable human being, an exceptional Indian, a sublime combination of intelligence, grace and courage.” West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said she was “saddened” at the passing of Seth. “She was champion of human rights. My condolences to her family,” she said.
Corrections and clarifications: An earlier version of the story erroneously stated that Justice Leila Seth was an IAS officer. However, that is not correct. The copy has been edited to reflect the change.