Meet Sonia Gokani, Gujarat HC's first woman Chief Justice
Justice Gokani, the senior-most judge of the Gujarat HC, will work as a Chief Justice only for nine days as she is set to retire on February 25
Justice Sonia Gokani was sworn in as the Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court on Thursday, becoming the first woman judge to be elevated to the post at the high court, but only for a period of 9 days as she is set to retire on February 25.
This makes her the sole Chief Justice of a High Court at present as Justice Sabina of Himachal Pradesh High Court discharged her duties as the Acting Chief Justice.
Governor Acharya Devvrat administered the oath of office to Justice Gokani at Raj Bhavan in Gandhinagar. Assembly Speaker Shankar Chaudhary, Judge of Supreme Court Justice Bela Trivedi, Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel and state Law and Justice Minister Rishikesh Patel were present on the occasion.
Justice Gokani’s appointment was approved by the Centre on February 12, and she had been serving as Chief Justice (Designate) since February 13. Her appointment came as Justice Aravind Kumar was elevated as a judge of the Supreme Court.
In 2017, Justice Sonia Gokani who was with the Gujarat High Court had ejected Zakia Jafri's plea challenging a lower court order upholding SIT's clean chit to then chief minister Narendra Modi and others on the allegation of larger conspiracy in connection with the 2002 post-Godhra riots.
She rejected the larger conspiracy charge, stating that it was not accepted by the Supreme Court.
When Justice RA Mehta, a retired judge of the Gujarat High Court, was appointed as as Lokayukta in the state without the approval of the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi, she was the junior judge who had quashed Justice Mehta's appointment terming it unconstitutional.
Eventually, a third judge, Justice VM Sahai, to whom the issue was referred after a split verdict by a Division Bench, upheld the appointment. Justice Akil Kureshi was the other judge on the Division bench who had supported the appointment of Mehta
Justice Gokani, who joins as the 28th Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court, will retire on February 25, making her tenure the shortest.
Born on February 26, 1961, in Gujarat's Jamnagar, she was elevated as the additional judge of the Gujarat High Court on February 17, 2011, and confirmed as a permanent judge on January 28, 2013.
She joined the judiciary directly as a judge at the city civil and sessions court in Ahmedabad on July 10, 1995, and presided over many civil and criminal matters.
Justice Gokani also worked as a judge for the special court set up under anti-terror laws, and conducted important matters from 2003 to 2008. She also worked as a special judge for cases investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Before that, as an advocate, she worked with various organisations for the cause of the downtrodden, women and children, as also for upholding the cause of the environment, reads her profile on the Gujarat High Court website.
She also served as a part-time lecturer at Shri K P Shah Law College in Jamnagar and was a member of the district consumer disputes redressal forum for nearly five years before joining the judiciary.
Justice Gokani was first deputed to the Gujarat High Court in March 2008 as registrar (recruitment) for the recruitment of judicial officers up to the cadre of district judges.