One of India’s most remarkable judges- Justice Leila Seth passed away on 5th May 2017 in her Noida residence in Uttar Pradesh .She died of a cardiac seizure at 10.28 pm. She leaves behind two sons, the celebrated author of “A Suitable Boy” Vikram Seth, Shantum Seth, a renowned Buddhist teacher, a daughter, Aradhana Seth, a film maker and her husband Prem Seth. We wish the family courage and strength to bear their loss.
Justice Leila Seth was the first woman to top the London Bar Exams. She had an illustrious career and one of the most recent inroads she made was her contributions to the three member Justice Verma committee in 2012 after the gruesome Nirbaya Delhi Gangrape. Justice Verma Committee was constituted to recommend amendments to the Criminal Law so as to provide quicker trial and enhance punishment for criminals accused of committing assault against women in India. She was a formidable fighter for justice in these troubled times. She made her contributions to the Indian Society by reforming and invigorating anti rape laws as she was one of the eminent three people the government of India had chosen on the Justice Verma Committee.
Year have passed since the Delhi Gangrape. It was a time when India’s moral compass was questioned on the world stage. After five years all the accused were given the death penalty and we hope this will be a deterrent in the future. The injustice in the Nirbaya Delhi Gangrape case can now be put to rest. Though she was not the presiding judge of the trial of all the accused, her contributions to anti rape laws speaks volumes of the spirit of Justice Leila Seth as being a notable, trustworthy voice on jurisprudence. Justice Seth was also part of an enquiry into the death of businessman Rajan Pillai, known as the “Biscuit Baron”, who was found dead in police custody. She was also part of the Law Commission of India till 2000, and was responsible for the amendments to the Hindu Succession Act which gave equal rights to daughters in joint family property. She is also a high caliber author and her autobiography “ On balance” was a bestseller. Leila Seth’s autobiography was published by Penguin India in 2003. In On Balance, she talks about her early years of homelessness and struggle, her straying into law while in England with her husband Prem, and later practising in Patna, Calcutta and Delhi; and her happy marriage of over fifty years, including the experience of bringing up three remarkable children: writer Vikram Seth, peace activist Shantum and film-maker Aradhana. She has also produced other notable literary works. In 2010, she wrote We, The Children of India, which explains the words of the Indian preamble to younger readers.
This was followed by Talking of Justice: People’s Rights in Modern India, in 2014, in which she discusses several critical issues she has dealt with in her expansive legal career.
Thank you Justice Leila Seth, you have run your race with grace , dignity and a quest to alleviate human suffering. Most of all, we thank you for your indomitable fight for justice and salute you for being a voice for human rights.
You have not only done India proud you have lifted humanity to another level. May your soul rest in peace and may heaven open its door for you and may the Almighty hold you in the palm of his hands.