The Chief Justice of India NV Ramana while speaking at a virtual event organised to celebrate the International Day of Women Judges, opined that women should be given preference while making appointments as panel advocates, which can increase their appearances and visibility before the bench. CJI Ramana quoted,
A woman being a natural multi-tasker is bound to succeed in any given profession. But, if she is dependent on only a few personal briefs which come her way, her appearance before the courts is minimised.
The bench will also not be in a position to recognise her. Hence, women should be given preference while making appointments as panel advocates which will pave their path to the bench.
Pointing out that a good number of women law graduates are compelled to give up their professional ambitions due to societal expectations, the CJI spoke of the need to create enabling environment for women to pursue their career in law. Livelaw reported CJI saying,
There are numerous factors behind the under-representation of women in judiciary. The primary reason is deeply ingrained patriarchy in our society. Women often have to face hostile atmosphere within the courtrooms.
Harassment, lack of respect from members of the Bar and Bench, the silencing of their opinions, are some of the other traumatic experiences often recounted by many women lawyers. Resultantly, out of nearly 17 lakhs advocates registered in the country, only 15% are women. The absence of inclusivity in the thought process sustains this anomaly.
Balancing personal and professional life is a huge challenge for women. Though they excel as students, the domestic issues prevent them from pursuing their passion. This is where the family, fellow members of the Bar and the Bench need to provide necessary encouragement.
To enrich the pool of talent, the CJI also strongly proposed reservation for girls in legal education.
The CJI further said that he was doing his best to correct gender imbalance in judiciary. He quoted,
After I assumed the office of Chief Justice of India, we have so far filled 9 vacancies in the Supreme Court out of which 3 vacancies were filled with women…For the High Courts, we have recommended so far 192 candidates. Out of these, 37, that is 19% were women. This is certainly an improvement over the percentage of incumbent women judges in High Courts which stands at 11.8%.
Unfortunately, so far only 17 of the 37 women recommended to High Courts were appointed. Others are still pending with the Government.
Narrating his personal experiences, the CJI said that his life was shaped by “exemplary women”. He said,
I grew up as the youngest brother to two sisters. My mother, though not highly educated, was worldly-wise and taught me invaluable lessons of life. For the last nearly four decades, I am being supported and guided by the wise counsel of my wife. I am also a proud father of two daughters. Bringing them up was a great learning for me. All these women in my life have deeply influenced the way I think and act.
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