India had woman President, PM but not Chief Justice, rues SC judge

“In any event, I hope, given the present dispensation, the time for the first (woman) Chief Justice will not be very far off.”
Justice RF Nariman
Supreme Court judge, Justice R.F. Nariman

New Delhi: Supreme Court judge, Justice R.F. Nariman on Friday said the country had a woman President and a woman Prime Minister, but unfortunately never a woman Chief Justice, but emphasised that the time for this would not be very far off.

Delivering the 26th Justice Sunanada Bhandare memorial lecture on “Great Women of History”, Justice Nariman said: “In India, we had a woman President. But, unfortunately, given the fact, we had a woman President and a woman Prime Minister, we never had a woman Chief Justice.”

“In any event, I hope, given the present dispensation, the time for the first (woman) Chief Justice will not be very far off.”

Justice Nariman’s comments followed close on the heels of remark made by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde on Thursday that time has come for a woman Chief Justice of India.

The observation from the Chief Justice came during the hearing of an application filed by the Supreme Court Women Lawyers Association (SCWLA), seeking to consider elevating experienced women lawyers from the top court as High Court judges, as a step to increase the number of women judges in the judiciary.

Justice Nariman said that according to the Bible, women are said to have been created from the rib of a man and the Rig Veda says do not expect a lasting friendship with women, ‘for they are like hyenas’. He added that in ancient Persian texts too, women are depicted negatively, with taboo attached to menstruation, and in history, there was always a perception that women were lower than men.

“Misogynistic traditions were there for ages,” he said.

In his lecture, Justice Nariman detailed on role of five remarkable women in history: Cleopatra of ancient Egypt, Pope Joan, Elizabeth I of England, Catherine the Great of Russia and Razia Sultana, as he spoke extempore on their historical significance and emphasised their key achievements.

Former Supreme Court judge, Justice Madan B. Lokur said: “Justice Nariman is very versatile in western classical music. He once told me that if he would not have been a lawyer, he would have been a music conductor of the Zubin Mehta variety.”

Justice Nariman has tremendous knowledge and expertise in history, religion and constitutional law, he added.

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