B.V. Nagarathna

B.V. Nagarathna

Sitting Judge of the Supreme Court of India

Assumed Office31st Aug, 2021

Retires On30th Oct, 2027


Permanent Judge of the Karnataka High CourtFebruary 17th 2010-August 30th 2021

Additional Judge of the Karnataka High CourtFebruary 18th 2008-February 16th 2010

EnrollmentOctober 28th 1987-February 17th 2008

Age: 61

Tracked Cases: 9


L.L.B. Faculty of Law, Delhi University

B.A. (Hons.) in HistoryJesus and Mary College, Delhi University


Early Life and Education

Justice Bangalore Venkataramiah Nagarathna was born on 30 October 1962 in Bengaluru, Karnataka. She is the daughter of Former Chief Justice E.S. Venkataramaiah, who was the 19th Chief Justice of India between June and December 1989. 

Justice Nagarathna completed her Bachelors of Arts in History degree from Jesus and Mary College, Delhi University 1984. Subsequently, she obtained a degree in law at the Campus Law Centre, Delhi University in 1987. 

Career as a lawyer 

After she graduated, Justice Nagarathna enrolled as an Advocate on 28 October 1987. She joined Kesvy and Co., a law firm based in Bengaluru. After working there for seven years, she decided to pursue an independent litigation career in 1994. 

Justice Nagarathna had a wide practice area as an Advocate at the Karnataka High Court. She practised constitutional law, family law, commercial law, insurance law, service law, administrative law, public law, land law, contracts, arbitration, and conciliation. 

As a legal practitioner, she often represented the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority and the High Court Legal Services Committee. 

Career as a judge

After practising law for 20 years, Justice Nagarathna was appointed as an Additional Judge of the Karnataka High Court on 18 February 2008. Two years later, she became a permanent judge of the High Court on 17 February 2010. As a judge of the High Court, she was the President of the Karnataka Judicial Academy and the Bangalore Mediation Centre, Bengaluru. 

She was a contributor in the book Courts of India: Past and Present published by the Supreme Court of India, where she authored a chapter on the Courts of Karnataka. Further, she chaired the project for translating the book into Kannada. The translated work was released in April 2021.

On 17 August 2021, the collegium led by former Chief Justice N.V. Ramana recommended Justice Nagarathna along with eight other judges to be elevated to the Supreme Court. Within two weeks, on 31 August, she was appointed as judge of the Supreme Court. She was appointed alongside her sister judges Justices Hima Kohli and Bela M. Trivedi. This was the largest cohort of women judges to have ever been appointed to the Supreme Court at the same time 

If the seniority principle is followed, she will be the 54th Chief Justice of India on 25 September 2027 for 36 days. With this, she will also make history by being the first woman CJI. 

From the above chart, Justice Nagarathna has authored a grand total of 68 judgements and has been a part of 447 benches.

20 percent of Justice Nagarathna’s judgements are in criminal matters. This is followed by civil (17%), family (10%), service (7%), taxation (6%), and constitutional law (4.7%).

Notable Judgements

In Bilkis Yakub Rasool v Union of India (2024), a two-judge Bench of Justices Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan struck down the remission granted by the Gujarat government to 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano gang rape case. Justice Nagarathna authored the judgement. The Bench held that the remission was illegal as the Gujarat government was not the appropriate authority to grant premature release. As the conviction was issued by a Special Court in Maharashtra, the appropriate government would have been Maharashtra. The judgement reiterated that the state government considering remission should be the state where the accused was convicted, and not the state government where the convict was imprisoned. 

In Neeraj Dutta v State (Gov of NCT of Delhi) (2023), Justice Nagarathna authored the unanimous opinion which held that a public servant could be convicted for bribery on the basis of circumstantial evidence under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (PCA). The judgement significantly reduced the higher degree of proof required to convict an official for seeking bribe as it gave weightage to circumstantial evidence in absence of direct evidence. 

In Kaushal Kishore v State of Uttar Pradesh (2023), she authored a concurring opinion in a five-judge Constitution Bench judgement which held that the grounds to restrict free speech under Article 19(2) are limited and exhaustive.The Bench also held that a government is not accountable for views expressed by its ministers. The case was pertaining to a speech made by Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan pertaining to the Bulandshahr rape case

In Vivek Narayan Sharma v Union of India, (2023), a five judge bench by a 4:1 majority upheld the Union’s 2016 Demonetisation Scheme. Justice Nagarathna was the sole dissenter on the Bench and held that the scheme, though “noble” in its intention, was unlawful on legal grounds.

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