GALA - Gender And Law Association

Member Profiles - Indira Jaising

Senior Advocate
Supreme Court of India

Indira Jaising has been awarded the 2005 Padmashri Award by the President of India for her contribution in the field of public affairs. She is the first woman to be designated as a Senior Advocate by High Court of Bombay in 1986. Her legal career has focused on protection of human rights, rights of women and those of the poor working class. She has argued several cases relating to discrimination against women, including the Mary Roy's case, which led to the grant of equal inheritance rights for Syrian Christian women in Kerela and Rupan Deol Bajaj, and recently argued the case of Geeta Hariharan in which the Supreme Court of India held that under Hindu law, the mother is also the guardian of her minor children along with the father. This case heralds a major breakthrough for all women, because it restores them to a position of equality within marriage. She also successfully challenged the discriminatory provisions of the Indian Divorce Act in the High Court of Kerala, thus enabling Christian women to get a divorce on the ground of cruelty or desertion, a right, which was denied to them. She has been associated with several Peoples Commissions and is currently engaged in assisting the Peoples Commission on Violence in Punjab to investigate the extra judicial killings, disappearances and mass cremations that took place during the period 1979 to 1990. Ms. Jaising is the founder secretary of The Lawyers Collective, an organization of Lawyers and law students, involved in servicing the unfulfilled needs of the victims of undeserved want. As the Founder-Editor of The Lawyers, a monthly journal, published by Law Cooperative she has attempted to spread awareness of legal rights among women, children and the working classes. She is currently the Director of the Lawyers Collective Women's Rights Initiative, which focuses on the Elimination of Violence against women and is engaged in drafting a civil law on domestic violence. Ms. Jaising has attended several national and international conferences on women and represented her country at these conferences. She had a fellowship at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies London and has been a visiting Scholar at the Columbia University New York. She was conferred with the Rotary Manav Seva Award in recognition of her services to the nation in fighting corruption and as a champion of the weaker sections of the society.