Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly,
without claiming it, she stands up for all women
. Maya Angelou
She stood up for everyone but her death should never become a deterrence to any
lady advocate determined enough to lead her way. The recent murder of the first
female President of UP State Bar Council has become a germane issue of concern
for each lady in the noble profession. No doubt advocacy requires one to keep
his nose to the grindstone. But it demands an extra milestone for a woman to
establish herself in this profession. All thanks to the environment that we
‘men’ have created in the last century. The greater contribution towards the
disparity is from men where the past sighs patriarchy while these incidences
reflect how far we have come.|
The Legal profession permitted the entry of lady Advocates after the passing
of Legal Practitioners (Women) Act XIII, 1923 which abolished the Bar on women
from practising Law. Indian women were granted to take up the Legal Profession
and practice in the Court of Law. Though initially only a handful of women
joined the Legal profession but with passage of time we now have sizable number
of women Advocates.
Manusmriti (3.56) says: It means, where a women is respected, the place
becomes God’s abode, by God’s abode, we mean, divine qualities, good deeds,
peace and harmony. However, if this is not done, then all the actions turn out
to be fruitless.
When the book on law as old as existence of mankind demand the veneration of
women, it becomes imperative for the law abiders establish the same in the
society. The case of Darvesh Yadav is not the first time where a lady
advocate was subjected to assault.
In 2014 advocate Ambika Das (since deceased) was assaulted by the police
and the police refused to register a FIR of the incident in which she was
assaulted by police and henchmen of an influential person on 04.04.2014 at
Lajpat Nagar Police station when she had gone to serve a stay order in relation
to some property dispute. The Hon’ble Court was gracious enough to take suo moto
cognizance of the inaction of Delhi police after the same was widely reported in
the newspapers. Ambika Das got no police protection and the case was vehemently
opposed by the opposing government departments. The case came to an end on the
untimely demise of Advocate Ambika Das in March 2017.
In the year 2013 an incident of voyeurism was reported from Delhi High Court
were women Advocates were filmed on mobile phone in the Ladies rest room. This
incident was reported in the newspaper which provided an impetus for filing a
PIL under Article 32 of Constitution of India before this Hon’ble Court namely
Binu Tamta & Anr vs High Court of Delhi.
In the year July, woman lawyer was sexually assaulted by a male senior lawyer in
Saket Court, New Delhi. As reported, a case was registered under section 376 and
354 IPC. The case is pending adjudication in Saket Court, New Delhi.
The social security of female advocates has thus become an important concern.
Along the same lines, a PIL has been filed at the apex court by Ms. Indu Kaul
which shows a bitter truth of the court enviorns in regards to female
The PIL has raised the following issues before the court:
1. The safety in court premises, chamber blocks, bar libraries, bar offices,
car parking has no security provision like deployment of police personnel at
2. The safety of lady separate rest rooms for ladies at distanced locations in
close proximity of chamber blocks need to be constructed.
3. There are combined chamber blocks for men and lady advocates, lady advocates
fall easy prey to misbehaving male advocates including those who do not desist
from consuming liquor inside the chambers and under the pretext of liquor
loosely conduct themselves at public places like car parking, bar libraries and
at times inside the bar offices.
4. Women by and large are still unsafe in this country post amendments in
criminal law and as almost every day one finds reporting about incidents of
rape, sexual assault, acid attack etc. The common psyche of men in general and
male advocates in particular is a lady advocate working late hours and/or
wearing modern dresses is an easy going person and often lewd comments are
passed against her.
5. Lady advocates are found to be contesting elections in many bar associations
and bar councils, the brutal murder of Darvesh Yadav in court chamber is a big
deterrent for any lady advocate to dare to contest elections.
6. Sch incidents of rape, sexual assault, voyeurism, eve teasing reflects gender
disparity even after nearly 100 years of entry of lady advocates who still
maintain the rule of ‘sunrise to sunset practice’ as they still do not find it
safe to work beyond court hours.
7. The women representation in the legal profession is abysmally low despite
mushrooming law colleges all over the country as lady advocates still prefer
corporate practice and law firms instead of litigations mainly due to lack of
infrastructural facilities and security.
8. The young lady advocates who get into marriage and have to stay away from
courts periodically when they are on family way, there is no social security
measure introduced towards maternity benefits. In case of illness,
indisposition, old age and her becoming indigent her situation is even worse for
want of non practising allowance.
9. There is no retirement age in the profession a lady advocate becomes pitiable
in her old age when her practice diminishes due to her health condition and her
family still nourishes the impression that being an advocate she must be capable
of earning her livelihood. Through social security measures there must be a
provision for pension when she opts out of active practice.
10. Wide gender difference is found despite increased women participation due to
the professional uncertainties. The requirement of legal professional coupled
with societal expectations act as inherent barriers for women. “One has to
invest at least 12 hours every day to survive in the field. Under these
circumstances, a lady lawyer has to slog for long hours in their chambers so
without adequate security facilities it is not possible.
11. If a lady advocate breaks the stereotype of being meek and that she can
break the glass ceiling all circumstances start working against her such as
hostility from male colleagues, insecurity in the court premises, lack of social
security measures and family expectations. She has to fight it all alone.
12. The condition of lady advocates is vulnerable in all courts across the
country. A lady advocate has to find her illness, old age, family conditions
throughout her life as there is no social security measures in provided by the
bar councils or bar associations.
Concluding Observation And Remedies
No doubt the
Vishakha guidelines and the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace
(Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 provide provide protection
against sexual harassment of women at workplace but the issues of working
conditions and social security of lady advocates should be taken into
consideration by the Apex Court and the Parliament as well. In today’s India,
where we talk about ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’, we also need to understand that
it becomes an imperative of us to provide a secure and safe environment for
women to prosper in the noble profession.
Note: The author is a 3rd Year student, B.A.LL.B; Law College Dehradun
Faculty of Uttaranchal University.
 Writ Petition(C) No. 162 of 2013, Supreme Court of India