President asks SC to decide women lawyers` plea for safer courts
New Delhi: Stating that the recent incidents of child rape in Delhi highlight the "repeated failure" to ensure security of women and children, President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday asked the Supreme Court to give expeditious attention to a plea seeking enforcement of Vishakha judgement to ensure more congenial work environment for women lawyers.
"The recent incidents of brutal assault and child rape in Delhi have shaken our society`s collective conscience. They highlight the urgency with which we need to introspect at the erosion of values and our repeated failure to ensure safety and security of our women and children. We must ensure the dignity and respect for women at all times," Mukherjee said.
The President also said that the apex court should give expeditious attention to the PIL of lady lawyers who are seeking "more congenial" and safe atmosphere in courts in pursuance of earlier landmark judgement in the Vishakha case.
"I gather that a group of lady lawyers in the Supreme Court have moved a petition to seek the enforcement of the court`s own verdict in the Vishakha case on providing a more congenial workplace environment within the courts for lady lawyers. I am sure the Supreme Court will give expeditious attention to the matter," he said.
The Supreme Court`s Vishakha Judgement of 1997 is a landmark in legal guidelines to deal with cases of sexual harassment at work places and includes setting up of a committee to inquire into such complaints.
Addressing the National Seminar on Welfare of Lawyers, organised by Bar Council of Delhi, the President said there was "huge disparities" between the elite and young lawyers and new ones needed to be helped to "find their feet".
"I would like to use this occasion to call upon Judges to take special efforts to encourage young members of the Bar by considering them for local commissions and appointment as `Amicus Curiae` or `Friend of the Court` in cases of public importance. I am sure such initiatives will boost confidence and morale of younger members of legal fraternity," he said.
Supreme Court judge Justice P Sathasivam spoke of the struggle of the young, disabled and women lawyers during initial years of law practice.
Speaking at the function, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said that Delhi Government had earlier paid Rs one crore to advocates` welfare fund and is willing to pay more.
"We started a decade ago by contributing Rs one crore for the welfare fund of the lawyers. However, while standing here today I feel that the time has come when we should review this and increase the amount quite substantially," she said.
She also said that the government has got constructed a modern multi-level parking lot at the Delhi High Court at the expense of Rs 200 crore.
She said the government was willing to consider providing medical insurance to needy lawyers.
Delhi High Court Chief Justice D Murugesan said the Bar Council of Delhi has a role in solving the problems faced by young and women lawyers.
Besides them, Bar leaders from 16 states, High Court judges and hundreds of lawyers participated in the function which gave some anxious moments to the organisers as advocates complained about the lack of seats just before the arrival of the President at Vigyan Bhavan here.
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