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HindustanTimes Sun,20 Apr 2014

Prez asks SC to decide on women lawyers' plea for safer courts

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, May 04, 2013
First Published: 21:40 IST(4/5/2013) | Last Updated: 21:41 IST(4/5/2013)

President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday said the recent incidents of child rape highlighted the "repeated failure" of the system to ensure security of women and children.

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He asked the Supreme Court to give expeditious attention to a plea seeking enforcement of Vishakha judgement to ensure more congenial work environment for women lawyers.

"The recent incidents of brutal assault and child rape in Delhi have shaken our society's collective conscience. They highlight the urgency with which we need to introspect at the erosion of values and our repeated failure to ensure safety and security of our women and children. We must ensure the dignity and respect for women at all times," Mukherjee said.

The President also said that the apex court should give expeditious attention to the PIL of lady lawyers who are seeking "more congenial" and safe atmosphere in courts in pursuance of earlier landmark judgement in the Vishakha case.

"I gather that a group of lady lawyers in the Supreme Court have moved a petition to seek the enforcement of the court's own verdict in the Vishakha case on providing a more congenial workplace environment within the courts for lady lawyers. I am sure the Supreme Court will give expeditious attention to the matter," he said addressing the National Seminar on Welfare of Lawyers organised by Bar Council of Delhi.

The Supreme Court's Vishakha Judgement of 1997 is a landmark in legal guidelines to deal with cases of sexual harassment at work places and includes setting up of a commitee to inquire into such complaints.

The president said there was "huge disparities" between the elite and young lawyers and new ones needed to be helped to "find their feet".

"I would like to use this occasion to call upon Judges to take special efforts to encourage young members of the Bar by considering them for local commissions and appointment as 'Amicus Curiae' or 'Friend of the Court' in cases of public importance. I am sure such initiatives will boost confidence and morale of younger members of legal fraternity," he said.

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