In a country where the judicial process is often marred by laws that go against the fundamental rights of humans, there are certain individuals who have upheld or fought for the freedom of the oppressed. The current Chief Justice of India, NV Ramana, has been quite vocal in his support for women’s rights, as several of his judgements and statements prove.
1. He voiced his support for 50% representation of women in the judiciary.
While addressing women advocates of the Supreme Court, he said,
We need 50% representation for women in judiciary. It is an issue of thousands of years of oppression. In lower levels of the judiciary less than 30% of judges are women… in High Courts it is 11.5 per cent… in Supreme Court only 11-12 per cent are women.Women should demand 50% reservation in the judiciary, not as charity but as a matter of right.
2. He rallied against unequal access to justice, giving the example of an impoverished woman who had once approached him.
He stated that the guarantee of equal justice to all is meaningless if ‘the poor, illiterate, vulnerable and weak sections of society cannot enforce their rights’. He recounted how he had been approached by an elderly woman who had asked him when he planned to put a cap on lawyers’ fees so that the poor could afford better legal advice. He said that this instance made him realise that ‘When people cannot reach us, we should reach them’.
3. He stated that the value of a woman homemaker was worth the same as that of a husband going to office.
A bench comprising of N V Ramana and Surya Kant made this observation while enhancing the compensation given to the relatives of a couple who died when a car hit their scooter in Delhi. He said,
The sheer amount of time and effort that is dedicated to household work by individuals, who are more likely to be women than men, is not surprising when one considers the plethora of activities a homemaker undertakes.
4. He chastised the Centre over women officers not being granted permanent commission in the armed forces.
In 2018, he chastised the government over permanent commission not being granted, and also stated that the government should not adopt a ‘discriminatory approach’. in 2020, a grant for permanent commission for women officers was issued.
5. He launched a legal awareness campaign to make women aware of the rights and protections available to them.
NV Ramana stated that a ‘lack of awareness prevents women from utilizing India’s more progressive policies’. To that end, he launched this campaign on our 74th Independence Day. It was a joint effort with the National Commission for Women (NCW) and the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA).