Indian judiciary needs more women judges, says Chief Justice of India designate Justice P Sathasivam.
As he prepares to take over as the 40th CJI, Justice Sathasivam admitted the fairer sex was poorly represented on the bench and emphasised the situation needed to change.
In an exclusive interview to HT, Justice Sathasivam even went to the extent of saying: “Seniority could be compromised to promote elevation of women to the higher judiciary.”
“Many courts in subordinate judiciary have appointed women officers in family courts. They are in a better position to negotiate amicable settlement. I agree there are not many women judges in the High Court or Supreme Court.”
At present, out of 29 judges in the SC, only two are women. Justice Gyan Sudha Misra was appointed as an SC judge four years after Justice Ruma Pal, the third woman judge to reach the top court, retired in 2006.
There are 52 women out of the working strength of around 650 judges in all high courts. The Calcutta HC has had only 10 women judges in the last 150 years.
Justice Sathasivam expressed concern over the fewer number of women advocates designated as seniors. An advocate is designated as senior either by the full court, comprising all judges, of an HC or the SC on the basis of applications received.
“HCs should be more proactive in designating women advocates as seniors. Even if there aren’t many applicants, the court should designate (women advocates) on its own,” he added.
Justice Sathasivam strongly disapproved of judges making “unnecessary” comments in their judgments. “It’s fine to express views through oral observations during a hearing. This is done to elicit response from the advocates arguing before a judge,” he said.