Need more proactive women lawyers, says retired Bombay High Court Chief Justice

Mumbai: The first Chief Justice of Bombay High Court Justice (retd.) Sujata Manohar said there is a need of enhancing the ratio between male and female judges in the legal fraternity. She said though the situation is not as discriminative as earlier, but still there is a need for encouraging women advocates to argue in courts across the country. In an exclusive conversation with the Free Press Journal, Justice Manohar spoke about Cornelia Sorabji, the first female advocate of India.

It may be recalled, Sorabji a legendary advocate was born on November 15, 1866. She was the first law graduate from the then Bombay University. In her carreer spanning over decades, Sorabji faced too much of discrimination since she was a ‘woman.’ The discrimination against her was to the extent that despite enrolling with the Allahabad HC, Sorabji’s was disallowed to practice in the court and she as only allowed to litigate for the “pardanashin” women, who were downtrodden.

Speaking about the current scenario, Justice Manohar said, “Though there is no discrimination in the legal fraternity today but still there are certain aspect which need to be looked into. Today, mostly the women are not allowed to argue in courts and their work is confined to drafting petitions, assisting seniors and other such work.”

“I think there is a need of encouraging women to argue before the courts. This will not only act as a catalyst in making women-friendly environment in the industry but will also help in the development of women. This, I think will help women get appointed as senior counsels and also help in their elevation to the bench,” Justice Manohar said.

Justice Manohar, who served the Bombay HC for more than two decades says the scenario has changed to some extent. She said, “I remember when I was at Bombay HC there were no women for at least 20 years. But the time has changed alot now since we can see there are more than 11 women judges in Bombay HC. We can hope the situation would improve in future.”

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Free Press Journal