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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Justice Chandrachud: Only one female judge remaining in SC; deeply worrying

Justice Chandrachud was speaking at a farewell ceremony organised by the Supreme Court Young Lawyers Forum to honour Justice Indu Malhotra, who was the first woman lawyer to be appointed directly as a judge of the Supreme Court.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: March 14, 2021 7:19:48 am
Justice D Y Chandrachud, Justice Indu MalhotraJustice D Y Chandrachud. (Express Photo/File)

Supreme Court judge Justice D Y Chandrachud Saturday said it is “deeply worrying” that the top court will be left with just one woman judge after the retirement of Justice Indu Malhotra and called for “serious introspection” to address this.

“Justice Malhotra’s retirement means that the Supreme Court now has only one female judge on the Bench. As an institution, I find that this is a deeply worrying fact and must promptly receive serious introspection,” he said, addressing a farewell event for Justice Malhotra, who demited office Saturday.

Speaking at the virtual event – organised by the Supreme Court Young Lawyers Forum – Justice Chandrachud also underlined the need to ensure diversity in the composition of the court.

“As an institution whose decision shapes and impacts everyday lives of Indians, we must do better. We must ensure the diversity of our Country finds reflection in the make-up of our court,” he said, adding that “having a more diverse Judiciary is an end; a goal in itself, and worth pursuing in its own sake”.

A diverse judiciary also ensures diversity of perspectives and instils a high degree of public confidence, he added.

Justice Chandrachud recalled that Justice Malhotra had spoken about the struggles she had to endure in rising up the ranks as a woman and added that “as members of legal fraternity, we do our bit to ensure that it doesn’t remain as hard for women, as it was for Justice Malhotra, to reach the upper echelons of our profession”.

Justice Malhotra, he said is “a woman who has broken many glass ceilings and has been exemplar of the manner in which awesome responsibilities of judgeship can be discharged with grit, equanimity, competence and compassion”.

Referring to her judgement in the case decriminalising homosexuality, Justice Chandrachud said that though she is technically retiring, “as the judgement showed, she is truly young in her mind and vibrant in her inner being and soul”.

He added that Justice Malhotra, in discharging her functions with a high degree of competence, “has served as a powerful symbol for many women in the profession” and “her story has undoubtedly made their dreams more
reachable…”

Speaking at the event, Justice Malhotra shared some tips for younger members of the Bar and sought to convey that it is “important” that they conduct themselves “with high degree of professionalism” and be “punctual in engagements”.

She recalled that one of the issues that she had flagged, when called by women lawyers to the Bar room after becoming a judge, was to impress upon them the need to distinguish between professional and fashionable attire.

“… I said please don’t wear fashionable clothes, which you must keep for the evening and not while you are at work….You must be professionally dressed as that’s how you will be perceived by your clients, your colleagues, and the Bench. Second, you must learn to draft in a clear and concise manner”, she added.

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