On Thursday, Chief Justice of India Sharad Arvind Bobde said that the Chief Justices of High Courts have often told him that women lawyers turn down judgeship, stating domestic responsibilities as the reason. However, Bobde, also said that it is high time for a woman to become the chief justice of India but since most of them refuse to become judges, the Collegium faces difficulties in the appointments. These comments were made by the Chief Justice of India when a Supreme Court bench was hearing a plea concerning the appointment of judges to High Courts. The Supreme Court Women Lawyers Association had filed an application to intervene in the plea before the court. The Supreme Court Women Lawyers association’s application seeks to crucially consider promoting experienced women lawyers from the Supreme Court as judges of High Courts as a measure to increase the number of women judges. During the hearing, the Women Lawyers' Association, lawyers Sneha Khalita and Shoba Gupta argued that only 11 per cent of women are in the judiciary, and sought that more women be appointed as judges. Advocate Kalita, also appearing for the association, stated that the Memorandum of Procedure for the appointment of judge has not broached the subject of the representation of women. The court responded that the matter of women's representation was always considered by the Collegium. Bobde reassured that the court has the best interest of women in mind and is implementing it in the best way possible. He added that no attitudinal change is required, only that capable candidates are needed. The court, however, did not issue notice to the association’s plea. The bench consisting of Chief Justice Bobde and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Surya Kant said that it doesn’t want to complicate things. Attorney General KK Venugopal informed the court that a decision regarding the names of 10 judges put forward by the Collegium for High Courts and pending with the law ministry will be conveyed to the Supreme Court within three months. The Supreme Court then directed the Centre to provide a timeline to respond to the recommendations, mainly with regards to clearance from the Department of Justice. Supreme Court Women Lawyers Association, in its plea, said that only eight women judges have been appointed to the Supreme Court and there have been no woman Chief Justice of India. It mentioned the representation of women in the Supreme Court to be “abysmally low”. The plea mentioned that out of 25 High Courts in the country, only one has a woman Chief Justice -- Chief Justice Hima Kohli at Telangana High Court. In the High Courts in Manipur, Meghalaya, Patna, Tripura, and Uttarakhand there is not even a single woman judge.
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