B. Venkataramiah Nagarathna

  1. Venkataramiah Nagarathna(born 30 October 1962) is a judge of the Karnataka High Court, in India. She is the daughter of former Supreme Court Chief Justice E.S. Venkataramiah. She gained public attention in 2009 after being forcibly detained within the Karnataka High Court premises by a group of protesting lawyers. She has delivered a number of significant judgments relating to commercial and constitutional law in Karnataka.

Life

Nagarathna’s father, E.S. Venkataramiah, was the 19th Chief Justice of India. He was appointed on 19 June 1989 and served until his retirement on 17 December 1989.

Career

She enrolled with the Bar Council of Karnataka in 1987 and practiced constitutional and commercial law in Bangalore before being appointed as an additional judge of the Karnataka High Court in 2008. She was appointed as a permanent judge on 17 February 2010. She is expected to retire on 29 October 2024, after reaching the retirement age for High Court judges.

In 2009, she and another judge, Venkate Gopala Gowda, were unlawfully detained, along with the then-Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court, P.D. Dinakaran, by a group of protesting lawyers in the Karnataka High Court. The incident occurred following the declaration of a boycott of courts by lawyers’ association, who were protesting following allegations of corruption against P.D. Dinakaran. They were later released by the protesting lawyers. Following the incident, Nagarathna made a public statement, saying, “We cannot be cowed down like this. We have taken the oath of Constitution.”

In May 2020, B.V. Nagarathna was reported as being considered for appointment to the Supreme Court of India, leading a number of commentators to note that this would make her eligible to become the female first Chief Justice of the Indian Supreme Court. However, no formal notifications of her appointment or eligibility have been made.

In 2012, along with another judge, she ordered the federal government to examine the possibility of regulating broadcast media in India, noting the rise of fake news. In a concurring opinion, she also warned against the risks of allowing government control over broadcast media, calling for a statutory framework that would allow self-regulation by the broadcast industry. In 2016, she ruled along with another judge that the Karnataka government could not require owners of vehicles bought outside the state to pay a “lifetime tax” in order to use their vehicles in Karnataka, holding the policy to be unconstitutional. In 2019, along with two other judges, she ruled that temples were not commercial institutions and accordingly, that provisions of labour laws relating to the payment of gratuities did not apply to temple employees. On 15 September 2020, she and another judge upheld a contested government policy to ensure the standardization of admissions into both, public and private colleges in Karnataka, citing the COVID-19 pandemic in India as a reason to limit the autonomy of private institutions.