Monday, December 4, 2023

Supreme Court celebrates first-ever International Day of Women Judges

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The Supreme Court of India on Thursday celebrated the first-ever International Day of Women Judges, to promote full and equal participation of women at all levels of the judiciary.

Speaking on the occasion, Justice Indira Banerjee said, We have assembled today to observe the first International Day of Women Judges. At the initiative of our progressive CJI, who has the unique distinction of swearing three women judges of India of Supreme Court on a single day and out of whom, one should become the first woman CJI in future. 

The right to equality irrespective of gender is basic human right recognised in universally declaration of human rights adopted by the united nation on 8th dec 1948. 

All the major international instruments relating to women incl in particular the convention of political rights of women 1853, the convention of the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women. The Vienna convention on the elimination of violanence against women, all recognised as rights to women to equality and rights against discrimination.

The Indian Constitution mandates the elimination of discrimination against women. The ground reality is that equality status is more under books instead of actual practice. 

She said, The first Indian woman to be appointed as the first Chief Justice of High Court, the women are half the world, half the sky when it comes to equality, where are they?

India’s commitment under international convention needs to be honoured. The focus has to be on substantive equality and affirmative action should be taken for formal equality.

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Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of United Nations and winner of Nobel Peace Prize 2001, said gender equality was more than a goal in itself. It was a pre-condition for meeting the challenges of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance.

In the last 3-4 decades, there has been awareness regarding need for sustainable development

In 1992, the United Nations Conference on Environmental Development made an important provision for the recognition of women’s right.

Today, women are under represented among those who take decisions that will impact the future generations. Achieving both intergenerational and inter generational justice is a goal towards which, there is joint responsibility of women and men.

Empowerment of women is one of the sustainable development goals.

On April 26, 2021, at the 75th meeting of the General Assembly of United Nations, the members re-affirmed the 2030 agenda of sustainable development, gender equality and empowerment of women and girls, which would be a huge contribution and step towards progress in all sustainable development goals.

The implementation of 2030 agenda was considered crucial. Noting that the relatively small number of women have been judges the general assembly decided to proclaim10th march of each year the international womens day for women judges and requested the secretary general to bring this resolution in attention of all across the states and organisation for observance of this day

The object of this day is to create awareness and to sensitise with a view to promote full and equal participation of women at all levels of judiciary. Despite increased engagement of women in public life, we remain significantly unrepresentative in decison making positions. Infact relatively small number of women have been  a part of judiciary. Particularly and senior level positions. 

The actual participation of equal terms of men at all level is essential to the achievement of the eqality, sustainability development peace and democracy

Also Read: Allahabad High Court disposes of plea regarding unlawful construction in Kanpur

Inclusion of women judges procides active monitoring for other women who wishbto pursue law

Their presence in constitutional courts and higher judiciary would change the mind set of people with to stereotype rules for women.

statement by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Fifty-first Cardozo Memorial Lecture in 1999-

We are losers if we neglect what others can tell us about endeavors to eradicate bias against women, minorities, and other disadvantaged groups.

I sincerely hope that taking decisin in regard to appointment as to what has been said by J Ginsburg will detect in mind and I sincerely hope that in sept amny more will be appointed to the sc (J Banerjee and cji laughs)

Judiciary cannot excel with women left behind. The men are also doing and they have seen enough progressive like our cji who has taken the initiative to organise thos program. The idea was all yours. (J. Banerjee to cji)

Judiciary cannot excel with women left behind. The men are also doing and they have seen enough progressive like our cji who has taken the initiative to organise thos program. The idea was all yours. (J. Banerjee to cji)

J banerjee further greets all the othe colleagues judges and judges who are connected through video conferencing

Justice Bela m trivedi 

Yesterday when I tried to formulate my thoughts for todays speech a number of questions flooded my mind. I jotted down a few of them and tried to answer them by myself. The first and foremost question is why do we tend to sing patriotic songs more on Republic Day and Independence Day and hear lectures on gender equality on International Women’s Day and now one more day that is 10th of march international day of women judges as declared by un assembly

My answer is that it is all symbolic but perhaps essential to strike the right chords and set the right tunes in conformity with the composition of the objective set out in the Preamble of our Constitution.

Gender equality is also the fifth of 17 sustainable development goals set out by the UN in 2015 to be achieved in 2030. The 17th goal recognised that action in one area will effect the outcomes in others and that the development must balance the social economic and environment sustainability.

The second question was why equal representation of women in judiciary is considered to be such an important issue when the main role of a judge is to interpret the law and deliver the justice accordance with law. 

The answer that came to my mind was to balance the scale of justice and to do complete justice. It is said that the whole world is nothing but a cosmic dance of lord shiva and one of the forms lord shiva dance is ardhanrishwar which is represented half male and half female- shiva and shakti

It represents the wholeness of human creature.

The goddess of justice is allegorical personification of moral force in judicial system. Though In female form her attributes are a blindfold a set of scale and a sword. As we all know, the blindfold represents impartiability, set of scales represent quality and sword represents authority and enforcement of law.

According to the theory of judicial virtues, virtues like honesty, patience, credence, courage, impartiality, independence are the traits indispensable for dispensing quality justice and it now openly acknowledged that large women are blessed with such virtues. The concept of masculinity and femininity do exist within each one of us. However the problem arise when there is a excessive and obsessive identification with one which creates gender inequality.

One of the reasons considered by the UN General Assembly for deciding to proclaim International Day of Women Judges was a small number of women judges in all levels of the judiciary. So far as India is concerned, as per 2021 data published by Union Ministry of Law and Justice, 12% of working strength in High Courts and 28% in the district judiciary is represented by women judges. It is for the first after independence that history is created in 2021 from the elimination of 3 women judges in sc for which we are greateful to our cji and esteem members of collegium.

Another question that came to my mind was why gender equality is necessary to balance the scale of justice?

There is a popular dictum laid down by Lord Hewart, justice of england Justice must not only be done, but it must also seen to be done.’

Society is one of the important stakeholders in the justice delivery system. Because of the meagre representation of women in judiciary the society may perceive that judiciary is not sufficiently sensitised to the needs of the most vulnerable section of the society.

The expectation of a democratic society would be to proceeded that there is equal representation of women in judiciary which is the strongest pillar of democracy.

Henrik john Ibsen had noted down -A woman cannot be herself in the society of present day which is exclusively masculine society with the laws framed by men and with judicial system that the judges feminine conduct from masculine point of view. 

They also belive that the women is not believed to be hold leadership role though the symbol of justice is lady justice.

Justice Anna Chandy, one of the female judges in the British Empire who after independence became the first female member of the Bench of Kerala High Court.

Justice Leila Seth was the first woman judge to become the CJ of Himachal Pradesh High Court and who set of number inquiry. She had immense contribution to her credit for take on rape laws and succession laws.

J Fathima Beevi was also first female judge of SC and member id national human rights commission. All these women judges have shown to the world that women are capable of tackling any crisis

I cannot conclude my speech without referinf to my most fav quote

If one wants to be free from outer domination, one has to realise ones own inner strength. 

So on this special day, I would wish each and every women judge best wishes for realising their inner strength.

We are in the 21st century with the cji nv ramana and other memebers who exoect the judicial system that would be governerd by both male and female strength

Justice BV Nagarathna

I thank cji to organise this event. 

At the outset I extend by greeting and god wishes to all judges, particularly to all women judges.

International Day of Women Judges is a symbol that we celebrate the accomplishments of women judges and provide a focal point to educate the public; and is an inspiration to young women who aspire to become judges.

Acc to judge Vanessa Ruizof international court of women judges- 

 By their mere presence, women judges enhance the legitimacy of courts, sending a powerful signal that they are open and accessible to those who seek recourse to justice.

It is in that context that I stress on importance of altering the demographic of the judiciary – whether lower or higher judiciary to include more women judges.

The Judiciary at every level is required to be sensitive, independent and free from bias. I am conscious of the fact that there is no single point antidote that may be applied to ensure the same.

By promoting gender diversity in judiciary and thereby diversifying the life experiences of those who adjudicate cases we will moving several steps closer to ensuring that a multitude of perspectives have been considered, weighed and balanced in arriving at decisions. 

 The Inclusion of women in the judiciary would also ensure that decision making process is more responsive, inclusive and participatory at all levels. We often find that women who enter the legal profession get into it but very few get up.

For holistically understanding effective participation of women in judiciary, it is imp to look at 3 main phenomena one entry of women into the legal profession two retention of women and growth of their numbers in the legal profession and advancement of women in numbers to seniors echelons of the legal profession.

All judges bring with them their personal experience when they use the judicial discretion to decide cases. Women judges deciding gender issues or womne related issues are likely to come up with more empathetic and better courtroom experience for the victims. The point regarding gender sensitivity has one theory attach to it that this women bringing sensitisation to the judiciary. When a woman judge decides a case she brings her life experiences to the ambit of judicial decision making which are pertinently different from men. Thus, according to this theory inclusion of women would make law more representative of variety of human experience. Advancing women’s greater participation in judiciary also plays a role in promoting gender equality in a broader way. Female judicial appointments particularly at senior levels can shift gender stereotypes thereby changing attitude and perception of appropriate roles of men and women.

Women’s visibility as judicial officers can pave the way for women’s greater representation in other decision making positions such as in the legislative and executive branches of the givt. Higher numbers and greater visibility of women judges can increase the willingness of women to seek justice and enforce their rights through courts. We all recently celebrated the historic elevation of 3 women judges to the SC of India in Aug, 2021 under the leadership of your lordship the cji along with his four other senior most colleagues.

Now that there are 4 women judges in the SC, I think this will bring about a paradigm shift in the composition of the Apex Court of the country which i believe is the beginning of a new era in the history of this great institution. 

Women judges in the judiciary would serve to secure women’s rights by providing an impetus to enforcement of such rights and to cater to specific needs of women.

Having greater representation of women the Bench would enhance the decision making process as there would be a clear gender perspective in the said process.

 In other words, women judges can enhance  the quality of decision making and thus secure justice, particularly, for the women litigants. As a result, the quality of justice dispensation system will itself improved ultimately leading to greater access for justice to women. The society in general, women in particular would get benefit with great confidence to approach the law court for enforcement of rights. Hence I argue for greater needs and representation of women into judiciary. But, by this I would not like to undermine the efforts and endeavours of male judges who have been crusaders of women’s rights and have secured justice for women in the society. There is a long list of the number of cases decided by the Hon’ble sc and several hc in this regard but i will only take one single example that is due to positive time, recently the sc in the case of secretary ministry of defence v babita pooniya directed that women engaged as short commissioner officers can make a prominent commission in indian army at par with a male counter parts thus, the presence of women serving in judiciary works as a catalyst for the developmentof genders sensitive judicial institution and more broad way to achieve gender justice in society.

I would like to state that appointment of more judges in the judiciary is not the only need of the hour. We need to create a environment within courts and all the members of legal faternity which would enable women to go intellectually and demonstrate the knowledge they possess.

My advice to all young women in the country is to involve themselves in various legal subjects and to continue move towards the better and continuously strive for better. Now the time has come to break the glass ceiling

I believe that each one of us has personal calling that as unique as fingerprint and that the best way to succeed is to discover what your passion is and to find a way to offer it to others in the form of service. In our profession, it is a form of service.

I believe that we as a faternity leave most stone unturned in dispensation of justice to those who are seeking it to the best of our ability. 

I once again thank cji for recognising the constribution of the women judges in indian judiciary and for initiating this program 

Thank you and Namaskar

CJI NV Ramana 

Even to understand, about 6000 judicial officers have joined this program and more than 8822 people are watching through yourube channel. 

3days back, justice hima kohli mu sister reminded me cj wht are you doing it on this international day of women judges. Honestly, I haven’t thought of any program. So her reminder made me think that i have to do something immediately so i called other sisters and discuss and they had given suggestions how to conduct this. 

I am very happy. So many judicial officers are connected. General viewers who are concerned about the voice of the women also joined. 

I thank everyone for participating.

I am glad to learn that Indian was among the nations that sponsored the resolution moved by Qatar before the UN General Assembly which resulted in 10th March of being declared as the International Day of Women Judges. I am extremely happy to be a part of its first ever celebration.

My life has been shape by strong and exemplary women. I grew as the youngest brother to two sisters. My mother was wordly wise and taught me invaluable lessons of life. The last four decades I am being supported and guided by the wise counsel of my wife. I am also a proud father of three daughters. All these women has deep influence in the way i think and i act. Women can compete with men in every walk of life. All that they need is the right opportunity to show case their skills. It is imperative for the justice delivery system to be at the forefront of progressive change.

Now, we have 4 women judges in SC, which is the highest ever in history. In near future we shall be witnessing the first even female CJI but i think we are still far away from filling 50% of the judiciary.

After I resumed the office of CJI and we have filled nine vacancies of Supreme Court, out of which three are women. I sincerely thank colleagues Justice Uday Umesh Lalit, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice L. Nageswara Rao.

In High Court, we have recommended 192 candidates, out of which 19 percent are women.

This is an important step to create mobilisation. I strongly propose reservations of girls in legal education, such proposal is encouraging the women in order to appointment of judicial officer at district level.

Telangana with 52%, Assam 46%, ap 40% Orissa 42% rajasthan 40% women aling judicial officer.

I strongly feel that this policy of providing the reservation to one needs to replicated at all levels and in all the state. I hope talented girls will get inspired by this to study law and join the fraternity.

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