NEW DELHI: CJI D Y Chandrachud on Saturday said gender and social inequalities continue to haunt the legal profession despite the giant strides it has taken in ensuring bigger roles for women whose numbers as judges, judicial officers and lawyers are increasing every year.
Speaking to students graduating from National Law School of India University in Bengaluru in the presence of Bhutan’s princess Sonam Dechan Wangchuck, vice-chancellor Sudhir Krishnaswamy and Bar Council of India president Manan Kumar Mishra, the CJI said he was heartbroken by the recent instance of caste bias against a young student at a law office. “I was told that when a young student began her internship at a law office, her supervisor asked about her caste. Upon hearing the answer, the intern was told not to return to office. I must confess that I was filled with despair when I heard of this incident. As lawyers, we are keenly aware of society and its injustices. Our duty to uphold constitutional values at every point in our lives is, therefore, greater than that of a common citizen,” he said.
CJI Chandrachud recounted the indomitable spirit shown by women lawyers in India despite the barriers created by society and men.
“Ms Cornelia Sorabjee, India’s first female advocate, was not permitted to make submissions in court unless she was aided by male advocates. Her contemporary Ms Sudhanshubala Hazra was met with picket fences when she attempted to enter the exam hall at her law university,” he said. “Unfortunately, these stories are not ones which we can leave behind in our history books. Although legal education and the legal profession have made great strides, much remains to be done — or to borrow the words of Robert Frost, we have miles to go before we sleep,” the CJI told the students and suggested that they lift others whenever they have an opportunity to do so.
“Regardless of the type of lawyer you become, do your bit to make ours a more inclusive profession,” he said, and advised them not to hanker after money and fame but face the challenges and explore the unknown and uncharted territories of law with a humane approach.

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