Delhi HC Judge Recuses from Hearing Plea for Gender Inclusivity in SCBA Executive Committee


The Delhi High Court judge on Wednesday recused from hearing a plea filed by a woman lawyer. The plea sought a directive to the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) to organize a General Body Meeting (GBM) for deliberating on an amendment to the Rules and Regulations.

This amendment aims to secure two positions on the member executive committee specifically for women lawyers.

Justice Subramonium Prasad opted out of hearing the petition, citing his membership in the SCBA.

The case has been scheduled for another bench to convene on February 26, 2024.

The judge’s withdrawal from the case occurred as a result of his affiliation with the SCBA.

The petitioner, advocate Yogmaya G, presented the plea through advocates Bineesh K, Nandana Menon, and Anjitha Santosh. Notably, the petitioner herself is an SCBA member who contested the Bar Council Election in 2023 for a position on the member executive committee but was unsuccessful. Eleven women lawyers, including the petitioner, vied for the post, yet none secured election. Following this outcome, the petitioner forwarded a representation to both the Chief Justice of India and the President of SCBA.

In her plea, the petitioner requests intervention from the High Court to compel the SCBA to convene a General Body Meeting (GBM) aimed at amending the association’s rules. She emphasizes the constitutional imperative of gender equality, citing recent amendments such as the Constitutional (One Hundred Twenty-Eighth Amendment) Act, 2023, which aims to allocate 33 per cent of seats for women in the Lok Sabha and State assemblies. Furthermore, she highlights the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments of 1993, which reserve 33 per cent of seats for women in local self-government bodies. Several states, including Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and Kerala, legally enforce a 50 per cent reservation for women in local bodies.

The petitioner also underscores constitutional provisions such as Article 14, ensuring the Right to Equality, Article 39(d), which safeguards women’s economic rights by ensuring equal pay for equal work, and Article 42, enabling the state to establish just and humane working conditions, including maternity relief. Additionally, she points out Article 243D(3) and (4) of the Indian Constitution, mandating at least one-third reservation for women in seats filled by direct election and one-third of chairperson positions in Panchayati Raj Institutions. She further mentions Article 243ZJ(1), stipulating that state legislatures must legislate to reserve two seats for women on the boards of every cooperative society with individual members.

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About the Author: Nunnem Gangte