There Is A Gender Bias In Judiciary: SC Judge Indu Malhotra
'Even in the High Courts, which is the base area, women are not commonly appointed as ASGs,’ she said.
Supreme Court judge Indu Malhotra on Sunday, said that there is a “gender bias” in the legal profession and “people think women judges are not good enough to grapple with complicate commercial matters,” reported LiveLaw.
Speaking at a panel discussion on “Women in the Legal Profession” hosted by the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy in collaboration with the Oxford University, Malhotra narrated the struggle that she had to face to establish herself as a senior judge. “Even though I came from a legal background, this profession was not a cakewalk for me. My father was a senior advocate but when I had started out, he was on the decline so there was no clientele as such that I inherited from him….although I did have the benefit of the infrastructure and a vast library that he had built..,” the judge said.
She added, “At that time, women were not recognised as Counsel and that is why I took the AOR (Advocate-on-Record) exam to get a foothold in the profession… After twenty years of practice as an AOR, when I applied for senior designation, I was told by two of my friends, bonafide, that it is a male-dominated space and that as a counsel I will suffer as clients mostly want to be represented by men lawyers… However, I applied anyway- even the judges had encouraged me to- and finally after some thirty years of my practice as an AOR, I was designated a senior……”
Emphasising on the male dominance in the judiciary, Malhotra said, “There is a gender bias….People think women judges are not good enough to grapple with complicate commercial matters….sometimes, even a senior judge would turn around to say that you would not understand it….so you have to work twice as hard; you have to fight it out and struggle your way through!”
She also pointed out the fact that it was only after 60 years of India’s independence that a woman took charge as the Attorney Solicitor General.
“Women find it hard to lobby for such posts as the Solicitor General, the ASG etc. It was only in 2009, after over 60 years of independence, that a female ASG was appointed for the first time and only because the Attorney General had a very high opinion of her legal acumen. Even in the High Courts, which is the base area, women are not commonly appointed as ASGs….No doubt that These are political posts, but they are a very good platform for exposure to diverse matters and for recognition….” Malhotra said.