The Daily Fix

The Daily Fix: Another woman on the Supreme Court is welcome, but much more needs to be done

Everything you need to know for the day (and a little more).

The Big Story: Glass bar

The Supreme Court Collegium’s decision to recommend the elevation of senior advocate Indu Malhotra to be a judge of the apex court is welcome news, since it represents the first time a woman lawyer has been directly recommended to India’s top court. In suggesting that it is possible for women to take many routes to storm this traditionally male bastion, the decision to pick Malhotra sends a message over and above the quality of judicial thinking that the senior advocate will herself add to the bench. But her appointment is also significant because of how skewed the gender distribution at the Supreme Court, and among India’s higher judiciary in general, actually is.

Malhotra will be just the seventh woman to become a Supreme Court if the recommendation is accepted. Once this happens, Malhotra will be one of two women judges out of 27 judges at the court, with her compatriot Justice Bhanumati ending her tenure not far in the future. The very first woman to take a seat at the Supreme Court was appointed in 1989, and the next appointment did not come until 1994. Looking at it from another angle, since 1950 there have been 229 appointments to the Supreme Court, not counting the two from Tuesday. Only 6 were women, a figure that amounts to 2%.

The rest of the higher judiciary is only marginally better. In 2016, there was the heartening sight of women judges at the top in the four major high courts of the country, Bombay, Delhi, Calcutta and Madras. But the overall percentage of women in the high courts remained around 10% of the total strength, with some high courts doing better than others. Even at the lower court level, the figure is just 28% approximately, and it appears to be worse within the legal profession, with just 10% of lawyers being women despite the fact that students taking the law exams are split evenly between men and women.

This lack of diversity is felt most acutely when it comes to women’s issues, where you will see five- or nine-judge benches stuffed with old men deliberating over things like the agency of adult women, triple talaq or marital rape. But it does not confine itself to what are known as women’s issues since practically any matter can be seen through a gender lens, and a wealth of experience will only aid the Supreme Court as it seeks to interpret the Constitution and protect the rights of Indian citizens.

To have half of the population be represented by just 10% of the higher judiciary is a deeply problematic situation, one that the Supreme Court Collegium, in its singularly powerful role has the potential to upend. Many have called for affirmative action or other means by which women are giving a helping hand from the entry into law itself, where the gender drop-off is steep. These suggestions need to be heard and taken on board if India’s higher judiciary is to be truly representative of the country it is meant to reflect and protect the rights of.

Punditry

  1. “The recent trend shows that the Chief Justice appears to be allocating cases on a selective basis. Again, it is not my endeavour to criticise the outcomes or judgments in such cases. But the manner of allocation raises serious issues about the independence of the judiciary,” writes Dushyant Dave in the Indian Express.
  2. “[This] is not a Christmas story but it fits well enough with Christian themes and therefore could perhaps be said to suit the month albeit martyrdom might fit better with Easter. Uncomfortable death, however, is just the beginning; the rest, involving a Georgian saint martyred in Iran whose bones eventually turned up in Goa, is more extraordinary,” writes Anabel George in the Telegraph.
  3. “The emphasis in the western democracies is upon the disclosure of the source of funding, whereas our electoral bond scheme puts a gloss of opacity around such disclosures, which may lead to the creation of a safe haven for corporate funding of political parties,” writes Suresh Kumar Goyal in the Tribune.
  4. A surprise New Year’s Day tweet by President Donald Trump in which he appeared to decree an end to U.S. aid for Pakistan, sent U.S. officials scrambling to suspend security assistance without even knowing how much aid they were freezing, report Jonathan Landay, Arshad Mohammed and John Walcott for Reuters.

Giggle

Don’t miss

Soumya Rao writes about how Indian television is missing the mark on same-sex relationships.

The insinuation that homosexuality is a forbidden fantasy and the half-baked plot notwithstanding, the episode was hailed as a welcome beginning for programming centred on same-sex relationships in Indian television. In these two years, such programming could have come a long way. Sadly, it hasn’t.

In the interim, shows with LGBT themes have sprung into life on the internet, forming core or sub-plotlines on multiple web series. The result is a mixed bag: most miss the mark, but the one-odd show that is right on target holds out the promise of better days.

In what is perhaps a sign of inclusiveness, a number of shows built on the familiar premise of a group of friends coming of age through a series of adventures now often include at least one gay character.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Movies can make you leap beyond what is possible

Movies have the power to inspire us like nothing else.

Why do we love watching movies? The question might be elementary, but one that generates a range of responses. If you had to visualise the world of movies on a spectrum, it would reflect vivid shades of human emotions like inspiration, thrill, fantasy, adventure, love, motivation and empathy - generating a universal appeal bigger than of any other art form.

“I distinctly remember when I first watched Mission Impossible I. The scene where Tom Cruise suspends himself from a ventilator to steal a hard drive is probably the first time I saw special effects, stunts and suspense combined so brilliantly.”  

— Shristi, 30

Beyond the vibe of a movie theatre and the smell of fresh popcorn, there is a deeply personal relationship one creates with films. And with increased access to movies on television channels like &flix, Zee Entertainment’s brand-new English movie channel, we can experience the magic of movies easily, in the comforts of our home.

The channel’s tagline ‘Leap Forth’ is a nod to the exciting and inspiring role that English cinema plays in our lives. Comparable to the pizazz of the movie premieres, the channel launched its logo and tagline through a big reveal on a billboard with Spider-Man in Mumbai, activated by 10,000 tweets from English movies buffs. Their impressive line-up of movies was also shown as part of the launch, enticing fans with new releases such as Spider-Man: Homecoming, Baby Driver, Blade Runner 2049, The Dark Tower, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Life.

“Edgar Wright is my favourite writer and director. I got interested in film-making because of Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the dead. I love his unique style of storytelling, especially in his latest movie Baby Driver.”

— Siddhant, 26

Indeed, movies can inspire us to ‘leap forth’ in our lives. They give us an out-of-this-world experience by showing us fantasy worlds full of magic and wonder, while being relatable through stories of love, kindness and courage. These movies help us escape the sameness of our everyday lives; expanding our imagination and inspiring us in different ways. The movie world is a window to a universe that is full of people’s imaginations and dreams. It’s vast, vivid and populated with space creatures, superheroes, dragons, mutants and artificial intelligence – making us root for the impossible. Speaking of which, the American science fiction blockbuster, Ghost in the Shell will be premiering on the 24th of June at 1:00 P.M. and 9:00 P.M, only on &flix.

“I relate a lot to Peter Parker. I identified with his shy, dorky nature as well as his loyalty towards his friends. With great power, comes great responsibility is a killer line, one that I would remember for life. Of all the superheroes, I will always root for Spiderman”

— Apoorv, 21

There are a whole lot of movies between the ones that leave a lasting impression and ones that take us through an exhilarating two-hour-long ride. This wide range of movies is available on &flix. The channel’s extensive movie library includes over 450 great titles bringing one hit movie premiere every week. To get a taste of the exciting movies available on &flix, watch the video below:

Play

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of &flix and not by the Scroll editorial team.