Incorporate feminist thinking in way to deal with law, Justice Chandrachud urges law graduates

Supreme Court judge Justice D.Y. Chandrachud on Saturday recommended law graduates incorporate feminist thinking in the way they deal with the law.

In his address at the 9th convocation of National Law University, Delhi, where he was the chief guest, he, at the beginning of his address, expressed awe at the number of gold medals bagged by female students in the university.

He said it is just an indicator of the times that we live in and the times that are going to come. “But I was also struck by the fact that almost all gold medals have been instituted by Shri so and so. And that’s an indicator of the times which were of a male dominated, patriarchal profession and society we live in….,” he added.

“We must understand the rule of law does not depend merely on the Constitution or on legislation; it largely depends on the political culture and the citizens, especially young legal professionals like you.”

He said laws can only do so much until all of us are willing to participate in its endeavour and a law is not an antidote to prevailing social values, rather, it is a means to forge a new future based on the ideals enshrined in the Constitution. “We live in a society governed by rule of law. Rule of law if understood and implemented properly is a defense against oppressive structures such as patriarchy, casteism,” he said.

Justice Chandrachud advised law graduates: “I would like to particularly advise you to incorporate feminist thinking in the way you deal with the law.”

He added that as a junior judge of Bombay High Court, he used to sit in the criminal roster with Justice Ranjana Desai and they heard diverse criminal appeals. Justice Chandrachud said sitting with a colleague who add more diverse exposure to realities of gender gave him the necessary feminist perspective.

He also urged students to look beyond the self-centred vision of their own existence and they must strive to make the legal profession more inclusive and accessible and that there was sufficient creativity in the law.

Justice Chandrachud said women lawyers may especially find it challenging to work in a male dominated profession and one of the great learnings of the pandemic is that when we went virtual in our court hearings, the number of women lawyers who were appearing in the court dramatically increased.

“So, technology has been a great enabler in liberating young women today in their access to the legal profession,” he said.

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