Chief Justice of India SA Bobde on Thursday said the chief justices of High Courts have often told him women lawyers refuse to take up judgeship, citing domestic responsibilities, reported Bar and Bench.
Bobde, however, also said that it was high time for a woman to become the chief justice of India but the Collegium faces difficulties in the appointments because they refuse to become judges.
Bobde made the comments when a Supreme Court bench was hearing a plea regarding the appointment of judges to High Courts. The Supreme Court Women Lawyers Association had filed an application to intervene in the plea before the court.
The association’s application seeks to urgently consider elevating experienced women lawyers from the Supreme Court as judges of High Courts as a measure to increase the number of women judges.
During the hearing, advocate Shobha Gupta, representing the association, submitted that only 11% of judges were women, reported Live Law. Advocate Kalita, also appearing for the association, said that the Memorandum of Procedure for the appointment of judge has no mention regarding the representation of women.
The court said the matter of women representation was always considered by the Collegium, the body that appoints judges. Bobde said that the court has the best interest of women in mind. “We are implementing it in [the] best way possible,” Bobde said. “No attitudinal change is required. Only that we need capable candidates.”
The court, however, did not issue notice to the association’s plea. “We don’t want to complicate things,” said the bench of Chief Justice Bobde and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Surya Kant.
In the main matter, Attorney General KK Venugopal told the court that a decision regarding the names of 10 judges recommended by the Collegium for High Courts and pending with the law ministry will be communicated to the Supreme Court within three months.
The Supreme Court then directed the Centre to give a timeline to respond to the recommendations, especially with regard to clearance from the Department of Justice.
Supreme Court Women Lawyers Association, in its plea, had said that the representation of women in the Supreme Court was “abysmally low”. It said that only eight women judges have been appointed to the Supreme Court and there have been no woman Chief Justice of India.
The plea said that out of 25 High Courts, only one has a woman as its chief justice. Hima Kohli is the Chief Justice of Telangana High Court. In five High Courts – Patna, Manipur, Meghalaya, Tripura and Uttarakhand, there is not even a single woman judge.