Justice S Abdul Nazeer | Photo: PTI
New Delhi: Outgoing Supreme Court judge S Abdul Nazeer Wednesday underscored the lack of adequate representation of women in the judiciary and said calling the Indian judiciary immune from gender inequalities was far from the reality.
Speaking at a farewell event organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) on his last day as a judge of the top court, Justice Nazeer stated that while the apex court "has come a long way since its inception" and was "set to face the challenges of today's dynamic scenario" under the guidance of Chief Justice of India Justice D Y Chandrachud, there was room for improvement.
"Supreme Court has always strived for excellence and I humbly acknowledge that it has come a long way since its inception. I am certain under the guidance of CJI Chandrachud this apex institution is all set to face challenges of today's dynamic scenario," he said.
"There is always room for improvement and changes. For instance, if I were to say Indian judiciary is immune to gender inequalities that exist within our society, I can't be farther away from the reality. The representation of women in the judiciary is still very low," he added.
Elevated as a Supreme Court judge on February 17, 2017, Justice Nazeer was part of several constitution benches which delivered judgements on issues ranging from demonetisation of currency notes of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 denomination in 2016, to reservation for Marathas in admission and government jobs and the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression of high public functionaries.
He was also part of several path-breaking verdicts including those on the politically sensitive Ayodhya land dispute, instant triple talaq and the one that declared right to privacy a fundamental right.
In his address, Justice Nazeer also observed that people assume the state of affairs wrongly because of misinformation in the society and today's situation "is not as grim as it used to be earlier" and that there is no tool for development more effective than women empowerment.
The farewell event was attended by CJI Chandrachud, Attorney General R Venkataramani as well as other judges of the Supreme Court and members of the Bar.
In his address, SCBA president Vikas Singh emphasised that that the age of retirement of Supreme Court judges should be increased from 65 years and that the appointment of Justice Nazeer, a "first generation lawyer and from minority community", as a judge of the Karnataka High Court was a "clear, great example of collegium working very efficiently".
"I have always felt that this age is not an age of retirement because the judge is probably at his best ... his acumen, intellect, experience which he has gained is lost abruptly which is not good. I feel that something should be done to ensure that our judges work much longer," Singh said.
AG Venkataramani also thanked Justice Nazeer for being part of the Supreme Court bench for six years and bringing strength to the institution.
Born on January 5, 1958, Justice Nazeer enrolled as an advocate in February 1983 and was later appointed as an additional judge of the Karnataka High Court on May 12, 2003. He was appointed as a permanent judge in September 2004.
Justice Nazeer, in his speech, also stressed on giving decent pay and opportunities to junior lawyers and said energy and competence of young lawyers were unparalleled.
He concluded his speech with a Sanskrit shloka, saying everything in this world is founded on dharma which is the ultimate supreme and dharma destroys those who destroy it and protects those who protect it.