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'Consider Meritorious Women Lawyers As High Court Judges': Supreme Court Women Lawyers Association Moves SC

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
6 April 2021 11:39 AM GMT
Consider Meritorious Women Lawyers As High Court Judges: Supreme Court Women Lawyers Association Moves SC
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The Supreme Court Women Lawyers Association (SCWLA) has filed an application in the Supreme Court seeking directions to consider meritorious women lawyers practicing in the SC and the High Courts for appointment as judges in the High Courts.Through this application, the SCWLA seeks to intervene in the case M/s PLR Projects Pvt Ltd v Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd and others in which the Supreme Court...

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The Supreme Court Women Lawyers Association (SCWLA) has filed an application in the Supreme Court seeking directions to consider meritorious women lawyers practicing in the SC and the High Courts for appointment as judges in the High Courts.

Through this application, the SCWLA seeks to intervene in the case M/s PLR Projects Pvt Ltd v Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd and others in which the Supreme Court is considering the issue of unfilled vacancies of High Court judge posts.

In the application, the association highlights that the representation of women in higher judiciary is "abysmally low". Till date, only 8 women judges have been appointed in the Supreme Court.  There has never been a women Chief Justice of India.  Only out of 25 High Courts in the country has a woman Chief Justice (CJ Hima Kohli at Telangana High Court). Only 73 out of 661 High Court judges, which is roughly 11.04% are women. In five High Courts, namely, Manipur, Meghalaya, Patna, Tripura and Uttarakhand, there is not even a single woman judge.

Referring to Articles 14 and 15(3) of the Constitution, the Association states that higher judiciary should have adequate representation for women after giving due wieghtage for their merit.

"...the Association has a deep concern regarding adequate representation of women in Indian Higher Judiciary. The women's participation in justice delivery system is an important factor for the societal progress and gender equality which would further reflect the country's commitment towards these cardinal issues", the application states.

The application refers to the farewell speech delivered by Justice Indu Malhotra on the occasion of her retirement from the Supreme Court, where she emphasized that a society benefits when there is gender parity in the bench.

Reference is also made to a speech made by the Attorney General for India KK Venugopal, expressing concerns about the gender disparity in the bench.

"Improving the representation of women could also go a long way towards a more balanced and empathetic approach in cases involving sexual violence", the application quotes the AG.

In this background, the Association requests the Supreme Court to consider the suggestions on behalf of Supreme Court Women Lawyers Association for considering the elevation of Meritorious Women Lawyers practicing in Supreme Court as well as in High Courts for appointment as judges in the High Courts, whichever High Court is having lower Women judges representation and also seeking direction for adequate representation of women in higher judiciary.

The Association further seeks a direction to the Union of India to incorporate in the Memorandum of Procedures ( MOP ) for judicial appointment provisions for consideration of women judges and to expedite the process of inclusion of women judges in higher judiciary.

The application is drafted by Sneha Kalita Advocate-on-Record, settled by Senior Advocates Mahalakshmi Pavani and Shobha Gupta and researched by Advocate Bristi Rekha Mahanta.

On March 25, while considering the case, a bench comprising CJI SA Bobde, Justices SK Kaul and Surya Kant had sought a statement from the Attorney General regarding the time required to clear the pending collegium recommendations.

In December 2019, a bench comprising Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph had passed an order in the case stating that the persons recommended by the High Court collegium, which are approved by the Supreme Court Collegium and the Government, should be appointed within 6 months.

On an earlier hearing of the case in 2019, the bench had commented that nearly 40% sanctioned posts of High Court judges were lying vacant, and urged the Attorney General to take steps to expedite the appointment process.
"…The convention laid down is that an endeavour should be made that recommendations for vacancies are sent six months in advance. This is an aspect which the Chief Justices of the High Courts would look into. This period of six months arises from the expectation that the said period would be enough for processing the names from the recommendation stage till appointment. Thus, sending names six months in advance would be meaningful only if the process till appointment is complete within six months which is a work the Government must attend to", the bench had said in an order passed in November 2019.
The case is likely to be listed before the Court on April 8.







 

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