Chief Justice of India N V Ramana addressed women lawyers to raise the demand for 50% reservation vigorously in felicitation program organized by the women lawyers of Supreme Court on Sunday, 26 September for the 9 newly appointed judges, three of them are women judges. He mentioned in his speech that for now there is no policy of reservation for women in the judiciary which is the current necessity. He also favored the 50% reservation in each law institute of our country for women. CJI mentioned the situation of Bar Councils in Indian states too.
"It is an issue of thousands of years oppression":
CJI added a further statement in his speech, "it's a matter of right, not charity.....".
"We need 50% representation for women in judiciary.....it is an issue of thousands of years of oppression. In lower levels of the judiciary, less than 30% of judges are women... .in High Courts it is 11.5%.... .in Supreme Court only 11-12% are women", he said.
"Of 1.7 million advocates in the country...only 15% are women. Only two percent of elected representatives in state Bar Councils are women. I raised the issue of why the Bar Council of the Indian National Committee does not have even a single women representative...." he continued.
He expressed that there is a strong recommendation supporting the demand for some percentage reservation in all law schools in the country as he too strongly supported this demand.
He is the CJI during whose tenure, the highest number of female judges is in SC. The Supreme Court has achieved a mere 11 % representation of women. Supreme Court currently has four serving women judges out of 33 judges, three of them were appointed one month before. Only 11 of the 256 judges have served SC, some of them are serving in current.
He encouraged and exhorted women lawyers to raise their voices and to unite for the same.
In his address, he quoted and modified the words of Karl Marx as "Women of the world unite. You have nothing to lose but your chain." He added. "You all are laughing. Yes, I don't want you to cry but with anger, you have to shout and demand a 50% reservation.....It is very unfortunate that some things are realized very late "
Why is the role of women so low in our judiciary?
CJI Ramana's these remarks came after the collegium pave the way for a women judge to head the Apex body in 2027 which will be for one month only cause of her tenure deadline.
CJI discussed many issues and hurdles that women advocates have to face on the regular basis in the court premises which include family burdens, clients' preference for male advocated, the uncomfortable environment in courtrooms, lack of washrooms for women, lack of creches, and lack of sitting places, crowded courtrooms, etc.
Justice, BV Nagarathna addressed that there is a need to not only encourage women to enter the legal field but also to ensure that they were able to continue working till the higher levels of the judiciary.
"Female judicial appointments, particularly at senior levels, can shift gender stereotypes, thereby changing attitudes and perceptions as to appropriate roles of men and women. Women's visibility as judicial officers can also pave the way for greater representation in other decision-making positions.... . Such as legislative and executive branches of the government," she said at today's event."
"To women advocates, I say... continuously strive to do better. I think the time has come to break the glass ceiling and for women to strive ahead," she said.
CJI also informed that SC is looking at how and when to resume offline hearings which will be done after considering all the factual data regarding advocates' health related to the Covid-19 Pandemic.