NEW DELHI: Expressing concern over the low representation of women in higher judiciary, President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday urged the stakeholders to address the imbalance without compromising on quality.
He also advised the judiciary to showcase conduct of the highest order, without making any reference to the recent courtroom drama over a corruption case involving a former Odisha High Court judge and said, “Public life today is a glass house. There is a relentless demand for transparency and scrutiny. Our legal fraternity needs to be mindful of these legitimate urges of the people, the ultimate masters in the democracy.”
In his inaugural address at the two-day meet organised jointly by the Law Commission of India and NITI Aayog on the National Law Day, he said. “There is unacceptably low representation of traditionally weaker sections such as OBCs, SCs and STs especially in the higher judiciary.”
Kovind is India’s second Dalit President.
“Of the 17,000 judges in our subordinate courts, High Courts and the Supreme Court, only about 4,700 roughly one in four are women,” he said.
The President also asked the higher judiciary to groom district and sessions judges and raise their skill so that more and more of them can be elevated to High Courts.
“While we take pride in our courts, it is a paradox that the poor often shy away from a legal battle, worried about duration and cost. And the well-off sometimes use the judicial process to delay resolution to issues they simply do not want resolved,” Kovind said.
Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan also seeks a review of the collegiums system.
In his speech Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra emphasized that guaranteeing fundamental rights to its citizens is the “sacrosanct duty of the judiciary”.
“There is a perception that there is a judicial activism. I must clarify protection of fundamental rights of each and every citizen is the sacrosanct duty of the judiciary which has been conferred on by the Constitution. Fundamental rights have been expended from the date the Constitution came into existence,” CJI added.
He also clarified the so-called judiciary-executive clash and said, “Nobody intends, nobody desires to enter upon the policy-making areas. We don’t make policies but we interpret policies and that’s our job. The main task of the three wings of the state is to defend the Constitution, its values, morals and philosophy.”