Author: Ritu Saraswat
Recently, while hearing the case related to the appointment of judges in the High Court, the then Chief Justice of the country SA Bobde had said, “Women lawyers often shy away from becoming judges because of their domestic and family responsibilities”. Is this the absolute truth? Do women lawyers, in fact, refrain from taking on important responsibilities simply because they have to prioritize their family obligations?
It’s not like this. The root of the problem is the sense of male dominance that seeks to keep women away from the decisive role.
This incident from four decades ago has been repeated in different forms even after that. Had it not been so, Indira Jaising, who was the first woman Additional Solicitor General of the country, would not have to say that she was a victim of gender discrimination in the court corridors. In an interview in the year 2016, Indira Jaising said that when she is accompanied by a male lawyer, judges often ask her to speak before him. And when there is a male lawyer in his opposition, the judge asks him to speak first.
When the presence of women in the court premises is so undesirable, how will they be able to attain the highest positions in the court. That is why the number of women judges appointed so far in 24 high courts across the country is not more than 7 percent.
In fact, for the first time on 24 August 1921, the Allahabad High Court gave permission to Cornelia Sorabji to advocate. This year, the step towards gender equality in the judiciary is being completed this year. The sad aspect is that nothing special has changed for women in the last hundred years. At a global academic conference in November 2020, Jammu and Kashmir High Court Chief Justice Geeta Mittal said, “The number of women from law schools to graduate and junior level work in the legal profession is equal to male counterparts, but it is at the workplace or later High positions do not change in the same representation. Their progress is hindered due to systemic discrimination. ‘
The problem of gender discrimination is also widespread in law firms. According to a study, women are given relatively easy jobs in law firms and are forced to satisfy at a lower fee than their male counterparts. Even at the international level, the situation is no different. A study of 25 countries conducted by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) between 2012 and 2014 has revealed that 59 percent of women are employed at the lowest level of the judiciary and 50 percent at the secondary level, but women in the Supreme Court The number of judges is only 32 percent.
A study conducted in the United States has established the fact that if there is a single woman in a panel of three judges, then in the case of gender discrimination, its influence is seen on the entire panel. It is clear that we need to work more seriously on the measures to remove the hurdles faced in the appointment of women judges in the judiciary.
Disclaimer: The views expressed above are the author’s own
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