Chief Justice says it’s “a matter of law, not charity”

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Chief Justice of India NV Ramana Sunday called for 50% representation of women in the judiciary and supported demand for increased gender diversity in legal education, Bar and Bench reported.

“Enough of removing thousands of years,” the Chief Justice said. “It is high time that we had 50% representation of women in the judiciary. It’s your right. It is not a question of charity.

Addressing the female Supreme Court judges and lawyers at an event held to congratulate him and the nine newly appointed trial judges, Ramana pointed out that women make up only about 30% of the lower judiciary.

“In the Hautes Courts, women judges constitute 11.5%”, he added. “Here at the Supreme Court we currently have four women judges out of the 33 seats. That’s only 12%. Of the 1.7 million activists, only 15% are women. Only 2% of the representatives elected to the councils of state bars are women. No female member of the Bar Council of India.

The chief judge said these issues needed “urgent correction” and urged women to “cry out in anger and demand a 50% reserve” for themselves in the judiciary, Live Law reported.

He also paraphrased the German philosopher Karl Marx and said: “Women of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose except your chains.

Ramana spoke about the lack of infrastructure in the courts, gender stereotypes and societal attitudes that have created barriers for women to enter the legal profession. Citing a survey, he added that of nearly 6,000 first instance courts, 22% do not have a toilet for women.

“The National Judicial Infrastructure Corporation that I have proposed will ensure an inclusive design of court complexes,” the Chief Justice said. “We need to create a more welcoming environment.

Judge BV Nagarathna, who was one of three women sworn in as judges of the Supreme Court on September 1, praised Ramana’s comments, NDTV reported. She could become India’s first female chief justice in 2027. She is expected to hold the post for more than a month.

She said ensuring the participation of women in the judiciary will also promote gender equality in other areas. “The visibility of women as judicial officers can pave the way for a greater representation of women, in other decisions, occupying positions, such as in the legislative and executive branches of government,” Nagarathna said.

She also called for a standing ovation for Ramana, who secured the appointment of three female Supreme Court judges in one go. Nagarathna called the decision a “monumental achievement”.


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