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13 August, 2009

Justice Krishna Iyer says women of merit not reaching the bench

Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer has made out a case for appointment of more women as judges of the superior court.

According to him, many of the judges now selected can be replaced by better ones. Women of exceptional merit at the bar, with a record of excellence, are available but miss the bench since they are women.

Justice Krishna Iyer made these observations in an article paying a tribute to Sonia Maria Sotomayor, who recently became the first Hispanic and third woman judge of the US Supreme Court.

This is how he concludes the article, “The Sotomayor saga and gender justice”, which appeared in The Hindu today:

Justice Sotomayor has gone on to earn bipartisan acclaim as one of America’s finest legal minds. As a Supreme Court Justice, she will bring more federal judicial experience to the Supreme Court than any Justice in a hundred years. She will show fidelity to the Constitution and draw on a commonsensical understanding of how the law affects day-to-day lives.

In India, too, if only the collegium, which has no constitutional status except a bizarre precedent with a narrow majority which binds nevertheless, adopted merit as a ground for selection! Many candidates, men and women, have been chosen on the basis of irrelevant personal affection, personal favouritism, party support and nepotism and close relationships. Many of the judges now selected can be replaced by better ones, but a weak executive itself lacking in merit of the highest order submits to a syndrome of dynastic and other unhappy considerations. Women of exceptional merit at the Bar and who have a record of academic excellence are available but miss the Bench since they are women.

Women should awake and arise. They should not stop till their equal status is secured.

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