Justice NV Ramana
Chief Justice NV Ramana would be well within his rights to think aloud on irresponsible reportage by media, and warn it of legal consequences if it persists, but would fail to defend free speech if he does not, simultaneously, speak loud and clear of the high bar for determining that the media oversteps the limits of free speech — that of actual malice.

Women need 50% reservation in judiciary, bar councils: CJI NV Ramana

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Pointing to the poor representation of women in all rungs of the judiciary, Chief Justice of India NV Ramana on Sunday (September 26) pitched for a 50 per cent reservation for women, not just in courts, but in the bar councils and law colleges too.

“We need 50 per cent reservation for women in judiciary…it is an issue of thousands of years of oppression. In lower levels of the judiciary, less than 30 per cent of judges are women…in High Courts it is 11.5 per cent…in Supreme Court only 11-12 per cent are women,” he said.

The CJI was addressing women advocates of the Supreme Court on the occasion of a ceremony organized to felicitate him and nine other newly-appointed judges of the top court.

Also read: Three women among nine sworn in as Supreme Court judges

Ramana’s reservation pitch comes at a time when a Supreme Court collegium, encouraged by a rising chorus for more representation of women in the top court and the need for a woman CJI, promoted three women judges to the apex court including BV Nagarathna, who is due to become the CJI in 2027.

Noting that women form a meagre 15 per cent of the 1.7 million-strong lawyer population of the country, Justice Ramana said, similarly, only two per cent of elected representatives in state bar councils are women.

“I raised the issue of why the Bar Council of the India National Committee does not have even a single woman representative,” he said.

He admitted that problems such as lack of infrastructure like toilets for women and childcare facilities for working women have deterred many from pursuing their practice and assured that he is trying to remove these hurdles.

“I am trying to resolve issues of infrastructure…forcing the executive to make changes,” he said.

Also read: Justice BV Nagarathna could be first woman CJI: All you need to know

The CJI had raised the same issue earlier this month, stating that the Supreme Court has taken great difficulties to bring the strength of women to the current 11 per cent, even though they deserve to form 50 per cent of the judges.

“Some states, because of the reservation policy may reveal higher representation, but the reality remains that legal profession still has to welcome women to its fold,” he said.
The top court at present has four women judges – justices Indira Banerjee, Hima Kohli, BV Nagarathna and Bela M Trivedi – among 33 sitting judges.

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