Even after 75 years of independence, India’s judiciary has reached a representation of just 11% of women on the bench of the Supreme Court, Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana said on Saturday.
At a congratulation ceremony hosted by the Bar Association of India (BCI), CJI Ramana admitted that the legal profession has yet to welcome women as the majority of them struggle within the profession.
“After 75 years of independence, you would expect at least 50% representation for women at all levels, but I have to admit with great difficulty that we have now achieved a representation of only 11% of women on the Supreme Court bench. Some states “Because of the reservation policy, a higher representation may come to light. But the reality remains that the legal profession still has to welcome women into its lap,” said the chief judge.
CJI Ramana called lawyers the crusaders for rights and said they are a “major wheel in the chariot of justice”.
Speaking of the Bar Association, the CJI noted that the legal body was visualized in the 1960s and since then “functions to promote well-being and ethics within the profession. From regulating legal training to the legal profession, from creating awareness about the law to provide legal aid, the Bar Association of India is truly an institution of great social significance”.
He noted that the law still “somehow remains an urban profession” because there are several obstacles a young lawyer must overcome. “The harsh reality is that without any patronage, despite years of waiting and struggling, no one can guarantee stability in the profession,” the CJI said.
CJI Ramana also expressed concern about the “new trend” of “independence” emerging in the profession, “similar to what has happened abroad”.
“Due to livelihood issues, many young and bright lawyers are joining law firms. This is a welcome change, as it opens new avenues for first-generation lawyers. But at the same time, it also causes a decline in traditional practice. Ordinary people cannot afford high-quality legal advice at corporate prices, which is a concern,” the CJI said.
“While we provide strong access to justice, lakhs in India are still unable to go to courts to seek a solution,” he said.
The Chief Justice also noted that the high expenditure and the long delay, which is “part of our legal process”, are the biggest challenge.
“While this may not be the right opportunity to mention it. But as an experienced member of the judicial family, it is my duty to bring certain hard facts to your attention. The judiciary faces difficult challenges such as those of inadequate infrastructure, shortage administrative staff and huge job vacancies for judges,” according to the CJI.