The Chief Justice of India, N.V. Ramana, said on Saturday that the legal profession is yet to welcome women into its fold, and emphasized that very few women find representation at the top and even if they do, they still continue to face an uphill task.
The CJI was speaking at a felicitation function organized here by the Bar Council of India. It was attended by Law Minister Kiran Rijiju and several top court judges, days after the appointment of three women judges, including a future woman Chief Justice, and six other judges at one go in the top court.
“After 75 years of Independence, one would expect at least 50 percent representation of women at all levels, but I must admit, with great difficulty, that we have now achieved a mere 11 percent representation of women on the bench of the Supreme Court,” Ramana said.
The CJI also said that the majority of the women advocates struggle within the profession.
“Very few women find representation at the top. Even when they do, they continue to face significant challenges… the reality remains that the legal profession still has to welcome women into its fold,” he said.
He also highlighted the lack of women’s toilets at various court complexes.
“I had seen during my high court days that women did not have toilets. And it is very difficult for women lawyers to come to the court and wait for long hours in the corridors,” Ramana said.
On judicial infrastructure, the CJI said that he has made a voluminous report collecting information from each nook and corner of the country, which he will present to the Law Minister.
The report includes requirements for court buildings, lawyers’ chambers, facilities required for the bar, women lawyers etc.
“A comprehensive proposal for the creation of a National Judicial Infrastructure Corporation is under preparation. We have collected the status report from across the country. A proposal in this regard will reach the Law Minister very soon. I expect full cooperation from the government,” he said.
During the function, Ramana was referred to as Sachin Tendulkar for giving momentum to the appointment process to fill up the vacancies in the top court and the high courts.
Ramana on his part thanked his SC collegium members — Justices U.U. Lalit, A.M. Khanwilkar, D.Y. Chandrachud and L. Nageswara Rao — for being active and constructive partners in recommending the names of judges for the top court.
“It has been my endeavour to address the issue of vacancies in the higher judiciary on an urgent basis. A while ago, I was referred to as Sachin Tendulkar. I must correct the perception here. Like any game, it is a team effort. Unless all the members of the team perform well, it is difficult to win,” the CJI said.
He pointed out that after taking over as CJI, the collegium had recommended 82 names for various high courts.
“I hope the government will ensure that the names are cleared at the earliest just the way the nine names were cleared for the apex court. It is an ongoing process. We hope to live up to the Herculean challenge of filling nearly 41 per cent vacancies existing in all the high courts,” he added.