New Delhi: Less than six months since her retirement as chief justice of Delhi high court, justice G. Rohini has been assigned a new role—to head the commission set up to examine the sub-categorization of Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
Her appointment by President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday to chair the five-member commission is reflective of her years of practice at the bar and later the bench. Having been sworn in as the first woman chief justice of the Delhi high court in April 2014, she brought a judicial balance to her rulings, and an open mind as well as a firm yet gentle approach to dealing with litigants.
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This isn’t the first instance where she has been placed at the helm of a key committee. As a judge in the Andhra Pradesh high court, she headed the Andhra Pradesh State Legal Services Authority wherein she addressed issues pertaining to protection of the girl child, working women and also went on to release the Handbook on Women and Human Rights at the annual day meeting of the Indian Women Network, an initiative of the Confederation of Indian Industry.
Her appointment to the committee is strengthened by the fact that she is no stranger to the issue of reservation for the backward classes.
She was part of the bench at the Andhra Pradesh high court that permitted the state government to appoint special officers to panchayati raj institutions, and to fix quotas in such institutions for backward classes.
The commission, which has been asked to submit its report in 12 weeks, has the task of identifying sub-categories of OBCs.
The move is significant as it aims to give greater representation to the less dominant OBC groupings and also work towards inclusion for all.
The sub-categorization of OBCs will also ensure increased access to benefits such as reservations in educational institutions and government jobs for less dominant OBCs.
The commission has been tasked with examining the extent of inequitable distribution of benefits of reservation among the castes or communities with reference to the central OBC list and also work out the mechanism, criteria, norms and parameters in a scientific approach for sub-categorization.
This step will also give the central government led by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) an opportunity to reach out to the weaker backward classes who feel cornered due to dominant communities like the Yadavs, who in the past have been a strong support base of political parties like the Samajwadi Party.
In her three-year tenure as chief justice, she was part of various landmark cases such as the tussle between the centre and state in the exercise of administrative power in Delhi, the plea of telecom companies regarding call drops, privacy concerns surrounding messaging platform WhatsApp, and audit of power distribution companies by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG).
Before she took over as the chief justice, she was sworn in as a judge of the Andhra Pradesh high court in the year 2002 where she presided over cases ranging from constitutional matters to criminal cases.
A science graduate from Osmania University, justice Rohini obtained her law degree from the College of Law, Andhra University. In 1980, she enrolled as an advocate and joined the office of senior advocate Koka Raghava Rao.
In her two-decade practice as an advocate, justice Rohini’s practice was mainly in the Andhra Pradesh high court and the administrative tribunals and civil courts.
She was known to have been associated with a mix of matters including labour, service and public interest.
She also tried her hand at legal journalism and worked as a reporter for the Andhra Pradesh Law Journals of which she also served as the executive editor in 1985.
As a government pleader in the state high court in 1995, she was in charge of departments including environment, consumer affairs, labour, employment and training.