SC takes suo motu cognisance of lack of toilets for women lawyers at Ooty court
Legal news portal Bar and Bench on June 6 reported that despite the intervention of the Supreme Court in April, the lack of toilet facilities continued to be a reason for concerns
The Supreme Court on Friday took suo motu (on its own) cognisance of a news report on the lack of toilet facilities for women lawyers within the recently inaugurated court complex in Tamil Nadu’s Ooty and sought a detailed report from the Madras high court administration.
Following the report in the legal news portal Bar and Bench, Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, as the administrative head of the Supreme Court, decided to take a suo motu cognisance and directed the placing of the matter before the vacation bench.
The report, dated June 6, said that despite the intervention of the Supreme Court in April and assurance of the Madras high court before it at that time, the lack of toilet facilities continued to be a reason for concerns for their privacy, safety, and hygiene.
After seeking a report from the high court administration on June 6, the CJI directed for registration of a fresh application on the court’s own motion in a writ petition filed by a group of women lawyers from Ooty, which was disposed of in April upon an assurance from the high court administration. The CJI is currently overseas.
During the proceedings on Friday, the vacation bench of justices Aniruddha Bose and Rajesh Bindal expressed dissatisfaction with the June 6 report of the high court registrar general. It lamented the report lacked details of the facilities being made available to the women lawyers in the new combined court complex building in Udhagamandalam (Ooty) inaugurated last October.
“We need a more detailed report from the registrar general...The report of your registrar general does not say anything about the separate room and toilet. Show us the pictures and the plan,” the bench told senior advocate S Guru Krishnakumar, who appeared for the high court administration.
Kumar claimed that the issue of lack of toilet facilities is being raked up by a group of women lawyers who have a bone to pick with the registered women’s bar association. The bench retorted: “We are taking cognisance of this issue on our own.”
The court said the registrar general submitted a report on June 6. “...this report, however, does not mention in detail in what manner facilities for women lawyers are provided in the new court complex and as to whether there was any shrinkage of such facilities which were earlier available.”
Fixing the next hearing of the matter on June 12, the bench directed the high court administration to file a detailed report within 48 hours. “The court will pass further orders after going through the new report.”
The bench allowed the bar association at Ooty to assist the court on the next date of hearing. Senior counsel V Mohana, appearing for the Niligiris Bar Association on Friday, said the complaint against lack of toilet facilities and media reports on the issue was bringing disrepute to the association since only a few “disgruntled” women lawyers were involved in dredging up the matter.
On June 7, the National Commission for Women (NCW) also took note of the matter. NCW president Rekha Sharma wrote to the Madras high court registrar general to intervene and ensure that appropriate measures are taken to address the issue.
- Supreme Court