Pushpa Kapila Hingorani was an Indian lawyer, the first to file a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court in 1979.
While representing undertrial prisoners in Bihar, Kapila and her husband filed a habeas corpus petition on the prisoners’ behalf, following which all the victims in the case, and eventually about 40,000 undertrials across the country, were released by the top court.
One of the six women prisoners was Hussainara, which is why the landmark case came to be known as the Hussainara Khatoon case.
This case earned Kapila the title of the ‘Mother of Public Interest Litigation’.
Recognising Kapila’s achievements as a member of the bar, the Supreme Court has decided to put a portrait of her in one of its libraries. According to Hindustan Times, her portrait will be seen alongside those of legal luminaries like MC Setalvad, CK Daphtry and RK Jain in the court’s second library.
Kapila was also the first Indian woman to graduate from Cardiff Law School in Britain. They have also erected a plaque in her honour at Aberdare Hall. When she had begun practising at the Supreme Court, she was among the only three women lawyers there. She and her three children have fought more than 100 cases in the top court.
After a glorious career of 60 years, Kapila died in 2013 at the age of 86. The brave lawyer’s portrait rightfully deserves to be in the library of the Supreme Court.