Updated: March 13, 2021 7:30:37 am
Outgoing Supreme Court judge, Justice Indu Malhotra, on Friday said it is society which stands to gain when gender diversity is found on the bench.
Addressing a gathering at the farewell organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association, Justice Malhotra recalled her elevation to the bench – she was the first woman lawyer to be elevated directly as a judge of the top court – in 2018.
Recalling that she could not take up an earlier offer to work as a judge of the Gujarat High Court as she had to look after her elderly parents, Justice Malhotra said, “Providence in its wisdom charts out our destiny. When this offer (to be elevated to SC) was made, I took it up. I felt the way I conduct myself as a woman judge, it should pave the way for more women lawyers to be elevated from the Bar.”
Justice Malhotra expressed the view that the difference between male and female judges will not exist one day and added that she doesn’t believe in representation being merely symbolic. “I don’t believe in token symbolism and meritless appointment.”
Justice Malhotra opined that the biggest challenge women face is maintaining the work-life balance especially during motherhood.
“They require tremendous support in the legal profession,” she said.
Underlining that the tenure has been a great learning experience, she said a judge gets a great sense of satisfaction when long-drawn litigation draws to a close or when justice is done to the voiceless and referred to the Section 377 judgment by a bench of which she was a member.
When the judgment was read out, the emotion that swept through was moving and parties broke down as it gave legitimacy to their relationships, she recalled.
Speaking at the event, Justice R F Nariman said “all the direct appointees to this Court have had a very interesting career”. Justice Malhotra, he added, is a master of arbitration laws along with other laws, and her book on the topic “is an absolute delight”.
Earlier in the day, Justice Malhotra shared the bench with Chief Justice S A Bobde – it is customary for outgoing judges to share the bench with CJI on their last working day – who said he doesn’t “know a finer judge than” Justice Malhotra. The CJI recalled that once when Justice Malhotra appeared before him as a lawyer, she wouldn’t stop her arguments and so he asked his colleague why she wasn’t stopping. “I was told she prepares so well that she can’t resist telling everything she knows,” said the CJI.
Attorney General K K Venugopal recalled her dissent in the Sabarimala judgment. “She propounded the position of Constitutional morality” in that case, he recalled. Stating that she is one of the best judges, the A-G said it is sad to see judges having to retire at the age of 65.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said though her judicial career was not too long, it will leave a long lasting impact on the judiciary.
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