Chief Justice of India, D.Y. Chandrachud, said that institutional support must be given for the presence of more women lawyers in the country and also state of Tamil Nadu.
Speaking at a function to mark the inauguration of the district and sessions court and the chief judicial magistrate court in Myladuthurai, the CJI said that there was a very poor proportion of women practising as advocates in courts and added that while there are 50,000 male enrollments in Tamil Nadu, the women enrollment was only 5000.
He said that the law chambers were skeptical in employing women and added that the familial responsibilities were cited as a reason for women being singled out.
The CJI called upon all the courts in the country to open creches so that equal opportunities are given to women lawyers. He called upon courts to emulate the example of the Supreme Court of India and the Delhi High Court where creches are already in place.
Justice Chandrachud asked the Madras High Court Chief Justice to take initiative for the formation of creches in all the high court as well as all the district courts in the state.
The CJI said that the women lawyers were not employed in law chambers not because they lack talent and professionalism but because of the familial responsibilities attached with them. He said that young men lawyers must also take up child care and family care.
He said , “As a society, we force the responsibility of family care only on women and then use that very bias against women that we hold, to deny them opportunities.”
Stressing on the increase in entry level pay for young lawyers, he said, “I’ve come to know that the entry level pay of young lawyers in Madurai region was in the range of Rs 5000-12000”.
The CJI said that such poor pay distances members of the Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and Women from entering into a full fledged profession like law. He said that the law chambers were justifying the poor payment to young lawyers with the theory that the first few years were their learning time and was being mentored at the chambers. He said, “Please shed away from this paternalistic approach.”
Justice Chandrachud said that the entry level barrier has forced several law graduates to take up other work totally unrelated to their branch of study so that they can meet both ends.
The CJI stressed upon the need for more infrastructure so that there is a better environment for judicial officers. He also said that the judiciary was choking with pending cases and added that the Supreme Court of India has introduced the hybrid system wherein lawyers can appear both physically and virtually.
He said that this facility provides a connect between a judge sitting at Tilak Marg in New Delhi and an advocate residing in Melur or Virdhunagar.
He said that since the Supreme Court has commenced live streaming all constitution bench cases, which helps the students of law in government law colleges at Madurai and Tiruchi watch the court proceedings and assume knowledge.
The Chief Justice of India said that during Covid-19 pandemic high courts and district judiciary had heard 2.62 crore cases through video-conferencing. Justice Chandrachud said that from March 23, 2022 to February 13, 2023, the Supreme Court heard 4,13,537 cases.
Union Minister of Law and Justice, Kiran Rijjiju and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, M.K. Stalin were present on the occasion.