Fortune magazine has named Advocate Indira Jaising in their ‘World’s 50 Greatest Leaders of 2018′ list. Ms. Jaising is at number 20 in the list and became the first Indian lawyer to appear in it.
Fortune’s website said that the poorest in India found a voice in Jaising. It cited her appearing for the victims of 1984 Bhopal gas disaster, Syrian Christian women who fought for equal property rights as the men and lauded her fight against injustice. It also mentioned her role in drafting India’s first domestic violence law and of leading the United Nations (UN) investigation about the persecution of Rohingya Muslims.
Jaising completed her Bachelors in Arts from Bangalore University and pursued Law from University of Bombay. After earning LLM, a post graduate degree in Law, founded an NGO by the name Lawyers Collective. She was the first woman to be designated a Senior Advocate in the Bombay High Court. She was also the first woman to be appointed Additional Solicitor General of India.
Jaising has, throughout her career spoken for women and victims of human rights violation. In India, law is one of the many professions were women had to fight to gain entry. Jaising’s struggle was not different. She is one of the very few women who spoke up against sexual harassment in the court itself. About the privilege enjoyed by the males in the profession, she said that they even put up with other males’ irritating jokes. Women in law, she told the Guardian, did not get to have this camaraderie of privilege. ‘It gets to be depressing not to have a community to bond with. [Women] are increasing now, but theyâ€™re also not very bonded, they are isolated,’ she said.
The other Indians named in the list are businessperson Mukesh Ambani and architect Balkrishna Doshi.
Jaising’s name in the list has come at a time when she is, along with some of her colleagues, fighting a daring battle against the malpractices in the judiciary itself. Jaising was one of the lawyers who represented petitioners demanding an independent probe into the mysterious death of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special judge Brijgopal Harikishan Loya – a plea that the Supreme Court rejected. She and her colleagues had come under heavy criticism for having questioned the court and judges.
Incidentally the news of her being on the list broke on the very day the plea was rejected by the Supreme Court. Speaking to LiveLaw, Jaising said, ‘This comes on a day when the Supreme Court says that I am guilty of contempt for arguing that contempt action should be taken against the administrative committee of the High Court for having transferred the CBI judge hearing the Loya case in violation of the direction of the Supreme Court, I stand by my submissions in court, I respect decisions of the Supreme Court more than they respect their own decisions.’
Ms Jaising is part of a first-in-history fight against Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra against whom the Opposition party, Congress, tried to pass an impeachment motion the other day. This was turned down by the Vice President of India, and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member M Venkaiah Naidu. Congress now intends to approach the Supreme Court regarding the same.
The Loya case for which Ms. Jaising appeared is inextricably linked with the allegations against CJI Dipak Misra. In a press conference held by four senior most judges of the Supreme Court against CJI Misra, it was said that Misra was allocating cases of interest to the Government to his own bench. Two of the cases that were thus accused to have skipped other benches only to be assigned to Misra’s own, were the medical college admissions scam and the Justice Loya death case.