ABHA SINGH is a former civil servant who switched to law and presently practices at the High Court of Judicature at Bombay. She firmly believes that true freedom requires a judicial system in which the power of a few is not secured by the denial of rights to others.
She worked as a customs appraiser in Bombay custom house from 1991-94 and then joined the Indian Postal Service in 1995. During her stint as Director Postal Services in Uttar Pradesh she pioneered the usage of solar panels to power post offices – thereby making advanced postal services accessible to the remotest of villages. One little post office in Gauriganj village came on the national stage when Shri Rahul Gandhi himself came to inaugurate it. It gave an impetus to harness solar energy in places where electricity is scarce.
Considering the existing socio-economic issues of the society, she gave up a successful career in the Government to serve a larger cause by donning the robes of the legal profession. Over the years she became a renowned social activist for the considerable work she has done in the realm of woman’s rights, gender equality and justice. She did her schooling from Loreto Convent and her graduation from Isabella Thoburn College Lucknow, where she topped her batch. She has an M.Phil on Child Rights from JNU, New Delhi and her LL.B. from Mumbai University. Abha Singh obtained a law degree from Bombay University while working as a government official.
Her passion for taking up issues where justice has been compromised has been reflected in her work. She has, for instance through the media, vociferously spoken out on various critical issues. One such issue was when Justice Katju, in his capacity as the Chairman of the Press Council of India wrote to the governor of Maharashtra asking him to pardon Sanjay Dutt for his involvement in the 1993 bomb blasts. Abha Singh wrote to the governor rebutting his flawed assertions and was the first to bring to public notice how an official was exerting undue influence.
When the BMC gave notice to demolish the “Puncham Pyao” water fountain opposite Bombay Gymkhana she successfully fought against their decision and managed to obtain a stay from the Court. As a result Mumbaikars who get down at CST and Churchgate could continue to quench their thirst at no cost.
She has also been successfully pursuing the Salman Khan Hit-and-Run case to ensure that the rule of law is upheld and the youth are educated against the hazards of drunken driving.
Abha Singh believed that the arrest of the two girls in Palghar for their innocent comments on Facebook was an affront to the spirit of the Constitution and thus she took up the cause of the Palghar case in earnest when she learnt of their unlawful arrest. Being a champion of women’s rights she approached the Maharashtra State Commission for Women seeking justice for the victims. Due to her perseverance the guilty cops were suspended and the girls were exonerated honorably.
In 2008 Abha Singh made her mark as the third runner-up and the lead woman finalist in the Times of India Lead India Competition and her constant advocacy on women and governance affairs that received strong public support, paid off. In Mumbai, she worked actively for the computerization of the post offices, looked into the issues pertaining to senior citizens so that they could avail postal facilities in a rightful manner, and set up committees for women’s staff to ensure there was no discrimination against women postal employees.
Her constant advocacy on women and governance affairs received strong public support which lead to this achievement. She was further awarded the Chevening Scholarship to attend the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2008. Her study on the economic and social progress of Indian women in the United Kingdom titled “The Integration of Asian Women in the United Kingdom” was presented and received widespread acknowledgement by the academic community in London and the UK. Consequently, she was once again invited to speak on ‘Honour Killings in India and the Legal Complications of Section 498A” at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London in 2010.
In May 2017, she gave a talk at TEDx Oxbridge on the theme ‘Why laws in place do not empower women?’. Raising critical issues pertaining to gender justice for Indian women she passionately explored a series of case studies that lie close to her heart like the case of Asaram Bapu. She believes the law is complex and on the dismal prosecution and conviction rates obstructs women from being empowered. For example, the conviction rate of female feticide under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994 stands at a pitiful 10%.
In December 2018, Abha Singh was invited to speak on “#MeToo in Corporate India” at the prestigious “India Dialogues” held at Columbia University, New York. She shared the dias with the likes of eminent personalities such as Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Former Planning Commission Dy. Chairman, Rajiv Mehrishi, CAG of India, Ratna Sahay of IMF and Poonam Gupta of World Bank. Her speech was widely covered by the press in New York.
Abha Singh has also authored a book “Stree Dasha aur Disha” which concentrates on women’s legal rights. The book has been released in Hindi language to make it accessible to people of all rural and urban areas.
Helpless women and slum dwellers who have been unfairly persecuted by local authorities and builders for land that is rightfully theirs have a friend in Abha Singh who gives them free legal assistance through her NGO RannSamar. She recognizes the importance of women’s rights for the well-being and development of the nation and helps the weaker sections fight the injustice meted out to them.
The Foundation is primarily working in rural areas as 75% of the total population of India resides in rural belts. Her NGO is passionate about providing vocational skills to women and girls for financial inclusion. This is particularly important for those in rural areas where high illiteracy rates obstruct their access to labour opportunities. Abha Singh’s NGO has also given monetary aid to deserving girl students of “T D Mahila Maha Vidyalaya” Jaunpur for their further education.
Abha Singh, through her NGO, emphasizes on furnishing quality education, affordable health care and supporting skill development in women / youth. Safety of women and children is of pivotal importance and she is also involved in taking initiatives to facilitate the rehabilitation of the offenders. Her efforts to reform over two hundred convicts, which includes both men and women, undergoing imprisonment in UP jails by imparting them vocational skills have been appreciated everywhere.
Recent achievements of this public-spirited lawyer include installation of a sanitary napkin machines in the village for increasing the prospects of employment and to eradicate the practice of girls dropping out of school as they enter adolescence due to poor sanitary napkin facilities. Moreover, considering the aspect of women empowerment, Abha Singh through her NGO conducted free of cost computer and stitching classes at prestigious “T D Mahila Mahavidyalay” at Jaunpur. These commendable steps of Abha Singh have been recognized in the public domain and have been covered by media widely.
Abha Singh is married to YP Singh and is the mother of two children who are also pursuing careers in law.