Leila Seth, first woman Chief Justice of a High Court, passes away

Leila Seth
Leila Seth
Ms. Justice Leila Seth, the first woman judge of the Delhi High Court and the first woman Chief Justice of a High Court in India, passed away at her residence in Noida, near here, late last night after suffering a cardio-respiratory attack, sources close to her family said.
She was 86. She is survived by her husband Prem Nath Seth, two sons -- writer Vikram Seth and peace activist Shantum, and a daughter, filmmaker Aradhana.
Ms. Justice Seth had been treated for brain haemorrhage in a private hospital here in August last year. About two weeks ago, she suffered a fracture in a fall and had been discharged from hospital on May 2.
Born in October, 1930, Justice Seth was the first woman to top the Bar examinations in London in 1958. She joined the Bar in 1959 and was appointed as a judge of the Delhi High Court in 1978. She retired as the Chief Justice of the High Court of Himachal Pradesh in 1992, but continued to be active as a member of various commissions of enquiry, including one to study the effects of the popular television series "Shaktiman" on children. She had also served as the one-member commission that investigated the death of well-known businessman Rajan Pillai in Tihar Jail in 1995.
Ms. Justice Seth served as a member of the Law Commission of India from 1997-2000.
She was also a member of the committee, headed by former Chief Justice of India J. S. Verma, which suggested changes in law related to rape and other sexual crimes against women following the horrific gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old physiotherapist in Delhi on December 16, 2012.
Ms. Justice Seth was the Chair of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) for several years, and felt that social action litigation could be aimed at providing a decent standard of living for the poor and working people. 
In 2001, she was appointed Vice President of the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST) set up by UNESCO and served for a number of years. 
In later years, she did some arbitration work and was involved in human rights activities. She wrote her autobiography "On Balance" (Penguin) and a book for children on the preamble to the Indian Constitution titled, "We the Children of India".


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