Justice Indu Malhotra, the first woman lawyer to be appointed directly to the Supreme Court, retired from the Supreme Court on Saturday after a three-year term.
Speaking at her farewell function organised by the Supreme Court Young Lawyers Forum, Justice DY Chandrachud said that it was "deeply worrying" that the top court was left with only one woman judge after Justice Indu Malhotra's retirement.
"Justice Malhotra's retirement means that the Supreme Court now has only one female judge on the bench. As an institution, I find that this is a deeply worrying fact and must promptly receive serious introspection and reflection,'' The Indian Express quoted Justice Chandrachud as saying.
He emphasised that they could do better as an institution whose actions form and impact the lives of the everyday Indian, adding that "having a more diverse Judiciary is an end; a goal in itself, and worth pursuing in its own sake".
He added that a diverse judiciary ensures the diversity of perspectives, which instils a high level of public trust. As members of the legal fraternity, he said, "We must do our bit to ensure that it doesn't remain as hard as it was for Justice Malhotra for women to climb upper echelons of our profession."
"It was necessary for stories like Justice Malhotra to become more common," he said. With her retirement, the Supreme Court has only one woman judge, Justice Indira Banerjee.
Justice Malhotra, speaking at the event, said that it was essential to maintain a high degree of professionalism as a lawyer. She asserted the importance of being appropriately attired, professionally at all times and punctual in your engagements.
''One issue I flagged was when women lawyers called me to Bar room after becoming a judge. I said, please don't wear fashionable clothes, which you must keep for the evening and not while you are at work,'' she added. She explained that one must be dressed appropriately as that's how their clients, their colleagues, and the bench perceive them. They must learn to draft clearly and succinctly.
Justice Malhotra urged young lawyers to keep working hard and pursuing their dreams.
In her farewell address on Wednesday, she said that the Supreme Court's decision of legalising consensual gay sex was the "most moving moment" of her career since the feelings that swept the courtroom at the time were "overwhelming."
Justice Chandrachud also recalled when Justice Malhotra spoke at an event in October 2020 about the discrimination that she encountered even after joining the bench where some of her colleagues questioned her integrity which made her work twice as hard.
On April 27, 2018, Justice Malhotra took charge of the office and delivered several significant verdicts, including her dissident judgement in the historic Sabarimala Temple case.