4 March 2023 3:30 AM GMT
On February 23, 2023, Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud inaugurated the American Bar Association (ABA) Conference, a three-day international conference on "Law in Age of Glocalisation: Convergence of India and the West". During his keynote address, CJI Chandrachud highlighted the importance of inclusivity and diversity in the legal profession. While doing so, he answered a...
On February 23, 2023, Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud inaugurated the American Bar Association (ABA) Conference, a three-day international conference on "Law in Age of Glocalisation: Convergence of India and the West". During his keynote address, CJI Chandrachud highlighted the importance of inclusivity and diversity in the legal profession. While doing so, he answered a question which has long plagued many- 'Why can't we have more woman judges in higher courts?' He answered the question in the following manner–
"The state of our institutions in terms of inclusion and diversity reflects the state of the profession two decades ago. The judges who come to High Courts today in 2023, or the judges who come to Supreme Court in 2023, reflect the state of the bar at the beginning of the millennium. Unless there was a level playing field for women to enter the legal profession and to thrive into legal profession between 2000 and 2023, there is no magic wand by which you will have more Supreme Court judges drawn from among women in 2023. So we have to create a framework for a more diverse and inclusive profession today if we truly have to create a future where our profession will be more inclusive and diverse."
The CJI stated that recruitment to the judiciary was often drawn directly through the district judiciary and that recent statistics indicated that in many states, over 50-60% of recruits were women. The CJI attributed this trend to the spread of education in India and a growing perception among the middle class that educating their daughters was the key to prosperity. However, the CJI expressed concern about ensuring that these women were not overlooked or marginalized and stressed the importance of ensuring conditions of dignity for all individuals recruited.
"It is for us to ensure conditions of dignity for people we recruit," he said.
In his address, CJI Chandrachud also discussed the concept of glocalisation, which he defined as the convergence of local and global ideas and practices, and how it has been reflected in India's Constitution. He pointed out that India's Constitution was a prime example of glocalisation even before the country ventured into globalisation. The drafters of the Constitution learned from several other countries and Dr. Ambedkar, the father of the Indian Constitution, emphasized the importance of global engagement in the process of drafting the Constitution. CJI Chandrachud emphasized that the Indian Constitution was not just inspired by global discourse, but it was also rooted in local India.
CJI Chandrachud then highlighted some of the challenges that have arisen due to globalization, such as the impact of terror attacks, climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the rise of inequality. He pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic forced nations to shut their borders, and the rise of inequality across the world has resulted in a situation where only a quarter of the community benefits from the increased pie due to globalization, while the share consumed by the lower half is much less.
He also discussed how technology has impacted our lives, stating that truth has become a victim in an age of false news, and the challenge of our age is the retreat of humanity within ourselves, not willing to accept perspectives that are different from our own. He said– "Something which is said as a seed on social media can germinate into a theory which can never be tested." However, CJI Chandrachud also highlighted the benefits of the international rule of law, particularly in the commercial context, and the internationalisation of ideas.
CJI Chandrachud further elaborated upon how the Indian judiciary was adapting to the changing times by leveraging technology. He highlighted how video conferencing and virtual hearings had led to the decentralization of justice, promoting judicial efficiency, and a sense of equalization. He added–
"Supreme Court is not just the Supreme Court of Tilak Marg in New Delhi. Supreme Court of India represents the aspirations of citizens in the smallest villages and what better way to reach out our citizens than to use technology to take justice to citizens...We have adopted virtual courts for traffic offences, smallest summary offences. So that the work which was done by two dozen judges can be done by a single judge monitoring the server."
CJI Chandrachud highlighted that seniors in the legal profession still did not believe that it was necessary to pay young lawyers proper wages. He said–
"The attitude is that you have come to my chambers to learn, what do I pay you for? That model is an obsolete model. Unless we democratize the process of recruiting young people in chambers in India, our profession will continue to remain feudal in its mindset."
While concluding his address, the CJI remarked that India truly was a focal point in the global market place not just of business, industry, knowledge, technology, but also in the spread of new ideas. He added–
"Our country is reaping the demographic dividend. We are a young society. In the young society lies the prospect of hope of change. I do believe as an eternal optimist that our society will lead from the front as we aspire to be a more inclusive and diverse society."