Supreme Court left with one woman judge is 'deeply worrying': Justice DY Chandrachud

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court having left with only one woman judge is “deeply worrying” and must promptly receive serious introspection, apex court judge, Justice D Y Chandrachud, said on Saturday.

Justice Chandrachud was speaking at a farewell ceremony organised by the Supreme Court Young Lawyers Forum to honour Justice Indu Malhotra, who was the first woman lawyer to be appointed directly as a judge of the Supreme Court, retires from the apex court on Saturday.

“Justice Malhotra’s retirement means that the SC now has only one female judge on the Bench. As an institution, I find that this is a deeply worrying fact and must promptly receive serious introspection,” Justice Chandrachud said.

He said that “as an institution whose decision shape and impact lives of everyday Indian, we must do better”.

“We must ensure the diversity of our country find reflection in making up of our court. Intrinsically having a more diverse judiciary is an end, a goal in itself and worth pursuing in its own sake. 

“Instrumentally, having a more diverse judiciary, ensured diversity of perspectives is fairly considered, instills high degree of public confidence,” he said. 

He said that it was required that stories such as Justice Malhotra become more common place.

“As members of legal fraternity we do our bit to ensure that it doesn’t remain as hard as it was for Justice Malhotra for women to climb upper echelons of our profession,” he said.

Speaking at the occasion, Justice Malhotra said that for a lawyer it was important to conduct yourself with high degree of professionalism.

“You must be properly attired, professionally at all times and be punctual in your engagements. One issue I flagged when I was called by women lawyers to Bar room after becoming a judge, I said please don’t wear fashionable clothes, which you must keep for the evening and not while you are at work.

“You must be professionally dressed as that’s how you will be perceived by your clients, your colleagues, and the Bench. Second, you must learn to draft in clear and concise manner,” she said.

In her farewell speech on Wednesday, she said that the verdict delivered by the apex court decriminalising consensual gay sex was the “most moving moment” as the emotions that swept the courtroom at that time was quite overwhelming.

Justice Malhotra, who took office on April 27, 2018, penned several important verdicts, including her dissenting judgement in the historic Sabarimala Temple case in which she had said judicial review of religious practices should not be done as courts cannot impose their morality or rationality on the form of worship of a deity.