Justice Leila Seth who became the first woman Chief Justice of a State High Court has passed away at the age of 86. She has also received the distinction of becoming the first woman to top the London Bar exam as well as the becoming the first female judge of the Delhi High Court. Leila Seth is the mother of the noted author Vikram Seth. Justice Leila Seth began her career in 1959 as an advocate in the Calcutta high court as well as in the Supreme Court.
Justice Seth had been on the panel of lawyers for the Bihar and the West Bengal government. Justice Leila Seth was made as a permanent judge of the Delhi High Court in 1980. In 1991, she was made as the Chief Justice of the Himachal Pradesh high court. Justice Leila Seth had also served as member of the 15th Law Commission of India (1997 to 2000).
She was also member of the Justice JS Verma committee which was mandated to take a relook at the criminal laws after the December 16 gang rape incident. The committee’s work resulted in the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, that widened the definition of rape and made the punishment more stringent. Justice Seth has also written a number of books, namely, an autobiography, titled ‘On Balance’, ‘We, the Children of India’ (2010), ‘Talking of Justice: People’s Rights in Modern India’ (2014).